Editor's note: Brian O'Neill, CMSWire Contributor and former chief client officer for FIS, wrote for CX and other teams in his former organization a series of articles. Each were titled, “The Path ... " with each edition being a new take. For example, he would discuss culture, leadership, ownership, purpose, etc. In his six-plus years in his CX role, he sent out 286 notes with the intention to empower, reinforce and frame his company's mission by sharing insights to help his team improve its game and increase its level of engagement in what it wanted to accomplish. He revives some of these notes and adds some current perspective in this Fall/Winter 2022/2023 CMSWire series, which concludes today.

Over the course of 12 editions of The Path, we have explored topics ranging from strengths, to the importance of culture, authentic leadership, an ownership mindset, caring, purpose and even grace. The Path is a journey, and these are simply guideposts to help each of us as we lead teams, influence outcomes and focus on consistently delivering excellent experiences. 

More importantly, these ideas ensure that we continue to learn. That we continue to grow. And, that we reflect on our own personal journey to see how we can positively impact the teams that we serve and lead.

Related Article: The Path to Excellence, Part 1: Guide for CX Leaders Begins Again

A Personal Cheat Sheet for Staying on The Path

With that in mind, think of this as a retrospective that can be used as a personal cheat sheet to ensure that you stay on the path. To be certain, each of us faces distractions that, if left unchecked, can get you off the path and left feeling lost in your journey. 

So, let’s keep it simple and let The Path’s key ideas guide your journey forward:


A secret to unlocking potential (yours and your team’s) and improving engagement while thwarting quiet quitting rests in understanding and leveraging strengths. The better aligned you and your team’s strengths are to the roles you occupy the better the experience, and, in turn, the results produced. Check-out CliftonStrengths to help you and your team.


“If integrity is how you act when no one is watching, then culture is how senior leaders act when everyone is watching.” Feel free to read that again. We know that culture is not free lunches and Ping-Pong tables, but it is a reflection of how leaders of an organization behave. So, if you’ve got a culture problem, perhaps you have a leadership problem. 

Authentic Leadership

The joy of authentic leadership is that it cannot be faked (see what I did there?). Why? At its core the idea of an authentic leader is based on vulnerability — an individual’s willingness to be honest and exposed while also espousing inspiration, guidance and even love. Don’t fake it, be yourself. Be honest. Be consistent. Be a human. 

Ownership Mindset

If you Google the term "ownership mindset," the definition that's returned is "taking responsibility for outcomes and being empowered to make the decisions that will lead to those outcomes." Ownership is less about equity and more about the influence we have as leaders to shape the employee (EX) and customer experience (CX). Be willing to pick up the trash off of the floor (see culture). 

Caring, Purpose and Grace

Three of the last four editions of The Path were based on the premise that you, me, each of us has the ability to demonstrate care in the form of empathy while executing the “why” (our purpose) with courteous goodwill. We, as leaders, help frame the narrative, establish the corporate persona and set the tone for giving and receiving grace. This is not a sentiment, but rather a formula for success — regardless of how you measure it.

Needless to say, over six years and 286 editions of The Path that I was privileged to share with my global team, there were plenty of topics we covered. In building this series, I was focused on the topics that tended to show themselves over and over again — many by popular demand — with the framework built solely around what would The Path to Excellence take to get there.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: The Path to Excellence, Part 12: Dust off Grace and Put It in Motion

A Unique Path to Your Own Unique Journey

Let’s be clear: everyone has their own unique path, their own unique journey. For me, I find myself coming back to the words shared in the very first edition from May of 2016, and feel it would be the perfect way to end with this beginning in mind by asking and answering this simple question:

So, what is The Path to Excellence?

In short, it is a journey. Our journey. The journey of the entire team as we challenge ourselves and everything we do to be singularly focused on delivering the best possible client experience in every interaction.

Excellence, by definition, means being superior, or, in other words, better than the competition. To be certain, it does not come easily, nor is it achieved quickly. And it is not a destination that you arrive at. Rather, it is something that we must constantly pursue.

The joy of a goal, any goal, is that it keeps you focused on what you want to achieve. It is in that striving to attain the goal where excellence is achieved. And it is important to note, excellence does not mean perfection. We will not be perfect, but we can be excellent.

Every time.

I wish you success on your personal path and encourage you to enjoy the journey. 

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