The 8 Keys of Excellence by SuperCamp: Principles to Live By


“If the 8 Keys of Excellence was in every school in America and being taught in the homes, it would literally transform the country.” 

—Jack Canfield, Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul Series

Defining Excellence

How do you define excellence? You may agree after reading this that excellence is more a place to come from rather than a destination.

Aristotle gives us more insight about this powerful word . . .

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” 


As we move on to discussing our 8 Keys of Excellence, it’s important to remember that excellence is not about perfection. Perfectionism is focused on doing everything right and never making mistakes, in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. Excellence is about doing the right thing and always striving to be our best self.

The 8 Keys of Excellence – Principles to Live By

In defining the curriculum for SuperCamp, the leadership and life skills summer programs for teens, we developed the 8 Keys of Excellence after studying people who had achieved great success while maintaining personal excellence. The traits and principles they shared include concepts like integrity, commitment, and responsibility.

In light of Aristotle’s thoughts above, we can consider the principles of the 8 Keys of Excellence as our guide to “act rightly” and make each of the 8 Keys a habit that will lead us to excellence. If we “live” the 8 Keys of Excellence — in our homes, in our schools, in our organizations — we will excel!

And here are the 8 Keys of Excellence. We’ll dive a little deeper into each of these Keys in following articles.

Key 1 – THIS IS IT! – Make the most of every moment
Focus your attention on the present moment. Keep a positive attitude.

Key 2 – OWNERSHIP – Take responsibility for actions
Be responsible for your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. “Own” the choices you make and the results that follow.

Key 3 – SPEAK WITH GOOD PURPOSE – Speak honestly and kindly
Think before you speak. Make sure your intention is positive and your words are sincere.

Key 4 – COMMITMENT – Make your dreams happen
Take positive action. Follow your vision without wavering.

Key 5 – FAILURE LEADS TO SUCCESS – Learn from mistakes
View failures as feedback that provides you with the information you need to learn, grow, and succeed.

Key 6 – INTEGRITY – Match behavior with values
Demonstrate your positive personal values in all you do and say. Be sincere and real.

Key 7 – FLEXIBILITY – Be willing to do things differently
Recognize what’s not working and be willing to change what you’re doing to achieve your goal.

Key 8 – BALANCE – Live your best life
Be mindful of self and others while focusing on what’s meaningful and important in your life. Inner happiness and fulfillment come when your mind, body, and emotions are nurtured by the choices you make.

REFLECTIONS – A final review of the 8 Keys of Excellence series.


When we live the 8 Keys of Excellence we . . .
• match our behavior with our values, take responsibility for our actions, and are willing to do things differently
• learn from our mistakes, and speak honestly and kindly to ourselves and others
• make the most of every moment, make our dreams happen, and live our best life!

SuperCampAbout the Contributor: Since 1982, SUPERCAMP, Monthly Mentor, has inspired and empowered thousands of teens to feel confident and motivated, and to excel in school and beyond. Held on prestigious U.S. college campuses (Stanford, CSU Long Beach, and Villanova), SuperCamp offers six-, seven-, and ten-day residential programs for students in middle school, high school, and first-year college. Living on a college campus is a great experience for teens and most of our grads go directly to a four-year college after high school. As teens from around the world gather at SuperCamp, they are inspired to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve, and they acquire learning and life skills that empower them to thrive in all areas of their life. Read More…

(See what some recent grads have to say about SuperCamp at

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