How to seek excellence when working in a team.
Seek finality in what you do.
If you work at an early-stage startup, you would be accountable for delivering things end-to-end more often than not. Sometimes the task at hand is something you know how to do well. Most of the time, you're treading unfamiliar territory. To be successful as a contributor, not only does your output have to be of excellent quality, but also it should have finality.
All creative work involves two broad phases: visualizing what has to be done (or vision) and then actually doing it to bring it to life (or execution).
Take The Thinker by the famed French sculptor Auguste Rodin for example. Imagine how The Thinker would have come into existence. Rodin visualized the sculpture in his head and then actually brought the Bronze masterpiece to life. If you're working solo like Rodin, you absolutely and in all entirety own the vision and the execution.
If you're working in a team, accountability is often divided. Sometimes one person has the vision and also does part of the execution. Most of the time, the people who have the vision and those working on the execution are different.
Finality means the executed version is as close to the vision as possible.
To excel as someone doing the execution, you should strive to achieve the vision as ultimately as possible. This also means that if you're the one who has the vision, you explain your vision as clearly as possible. A team that consistently produces excellent output is also where the people who have the vision and those who execute that vision work well together.
As someone who's executing the vision:
To create great things, great vision and excellent execution are equally important. If you find yourself in either circle, seek finality above all.