Everybody wants to be excellent. But no one wants to pay the price. 

Except the best athletes in the world who welcome the challenge. At the European Championships, top show jumpers voiced their opposition to the new Olympic format and qualifications that are “dumbing down the sport”. This past weekend at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, elite event riders applauded the cross-country course design which saw only half the field completing. 

“If you can’t ride to a big single fence then you shouldn’t come to Burghley,” said Oliver Townend. “It’s a shame that half the field did drop out but at the same time, it’s Burghley, and it definitely doesn’t want dumbing down. This is our sport and this is how you test the very best in the world. For me, the course was perfect.”

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The best of the best seek a true test of excellence. They don’t want a watered-down version. They’re not there to participate. They want to win a meaningful challenge competing against the best. That’s why Olympic medals are valuable. It’s a goal difficult to achieve.

In business, the opposite seems to be true. As long as there is money to be made, shortcuts and mediocrity are not only acceptable but respected. Why make the best product when you can make it at half the price using worse materials and half-assing the production? Why build a true community when you can buy followers? The end result trumps all process. 

Quality is a word that is thrown around so much in the business world, it has become meaningless. We are drowning in a sea of crap covered in make-believe BS.  “Your call is important to us.” How about you answer the freaking phone then? “We make luxury products” made by 12 year olds in some country, in who knows what conditions, at the lowest cost possible. That’s not quality.

‘Here we want cheap, free, effortless’ should be made into a poster and put in many presidents’ offices. That’s how a lot of companies are run today, even though many declare to be ‘the best’. But as any athlete will tell you, without the process there is no excellence. 

The goal of any business is to generate profit but it would be nice if, collectively, we valued the process too. Make the best product you can afford. Hire the best people you can afford. Provide the best service you can afford. Take pride in doing the best work you can. Don’t just try to make a quick buck. Welcome the challenge, aspire to be excellent.