The SIGNATURE of Excellence

The fifty-six men who signed our nation’s founding document knew exactly what doing so might cost them. Nevertheless, they signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They knew precisely what they were doing and entirely what would be expected of them, but they valued liberty more.

Five were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army and another had two sons captured. Nine of these men died of their wounds or hardships of the war.

That is why the Declaration of Independence is so valuable to our country. The men who signed it.

Now let’s apply this to what we do every day. The value of the checklist, an invoice, a receipt, a closing shift, or a guarantee, is only as good as the signature on it.

For example, a blank sheet of paper is not worth much by itself. But if it has the signature of a famous person on it, then it could be worth more. And if it has the signature of an incredibly famous person, it could be unbelievably valuable.

I read about a piece of paper with handwritten lyrics by one of the Beatles. It sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Did someone buy it because they needed an extra piece of paper? No. Someone bought it because one of the Beatles used that paper to write lyrics to a song that has become famous. The value was not the paper. It was in who wrote on that piece of paper.

Certain works of art may not be worth much, but if they have the signature of someone like Van Gogh or Picasso, their value skyrockets. The value is not in the canvas or the paint. The value is in who created it and signed it.

The same applies to you and everything that you do. We do not think about it much but when we leave our shift at the end of the day, or when we sign an invoice or a work order, we are sending a message that we “approve” or “guarantee” that the job is done. The invoice is ready to be paid. We agree with the charge on the receipt.

Our signature adds value. Okay, maybe not as much as a founding father, a movie star, or a professional athlete. But why not? We are willing to pay for and display the signature of someone famous because they backed it up with excellence, with the work they put in, in their chosen profession. So why not me?

Does the work that I am doing today demand the signature of excellence? Does the way I treated people today deserve my signature? Does the product I served, the food I prepared, the shift that I supervised rise to the level of a signature of excellence? Can the brand we work for, the team member we coach, the customer we sell to tell that our signature was on it?

It is time we value everything that we do with the same energy, enthusiasm, and respect as we do a founding document, a work of art, an all-star performance, a world-class career, or something as simple as a daily checklist.

“Around the time of the U.S. Civil War, Henry Ward Beecher was a Congregational minister. Like his famous sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe—author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin—Beecher was an ardent campaigner against slavery.

Arriving at his Brooklyn church one Sunday, Beecher received a letter to him that contained just one word: “Fool.”

During his sermon that morning, he told his congregation about the short letter and said, “I have known cases of a man writing a letter and forgetting to sign his name, but this man signed his name and forgot to write the letter.”

Reverend Beecher was right. A fool throws insults at what they are against. A wise person pours energy into what they are for.

And so should we in the high calling of our daily work.”

“Always take the High Road or the High 5!”

Reach Higher