As we move toward the beginning of our business plan, I want to take this time to
discuss becoming exceptional. Being exceptional means you are a cut above.
Maybe two. Being exceptional means you do things differently, and better. Your
business is better, your work is better, your relationships are better and the clients
who expect the mundane are always surprised by exceptionalism.
Unfortunately too many of us shy away from being exceptional. We keep hearing
people telling us that being that good is the same as being conceited or
egomaniacal. The movement all across the land is to denigrate the exceptional in
lieu of the mundane. No hurt feelings, or truama of having to deal with the fact that
you may not be as good as that other guy. The exceptional one.
What a load of crap. The ones who make it to the top of the mountain ARE the
exceptional ones. And anyone can go up the mountain, they just have to put one foot
in front of the other and not quit.
Never quitting is one of the prime ingredients in being exceptional.
(I feel I must state that sometimes one must withdraw, whether temporarily or for a
longer time. Withdrawing to regroup for a myriad of reasons is not quitting. When we
quit, we emotionally destroy any link to the goal we were chasing. And a little part of
us dies in the quitting. Withdrawing can be a strategic decision that leads to a
different path. Only you will know whether you are indeed quitting or withdrawing. I
just implore you to be honest with yourself if you have to make that decision
regarding anything that is important to you.)
Sure – some will get there in record time, and others may arrive late to the party and
exhausted. So? The feeling that only ‘special’ people are allowed in will be one of
the most debilitating thoughts we can ever have enter our mind.
And exceptional people are not conceited, they are good at what they do. That
others may INFER that they are somehow elitist cannot be helped these days. The
striving for centerline mediocrity seems to be surrounding us on many fronts.
I simply believe it is a ruse to keep people from trying to do the hard work. And
without the work there is no success. And without success there is no exceptionalism.
And without exceptionalism we can all experience the fairness of lowered
Recently a photographer published a ‘manifesto’ on becoming a great photographer.
It was full of ‘don’t bother learning’ and ‘just spray and pray’ and ‘sure, you’re good
enough if you think you are’ crap. I hardly think that the words contained within that
piece were helpful. To be fair, there was some good advice mixed in with what is
such a terrible hi-jacking of the ‘becoming a professional’ meme, but it was mostly
overshadowed by the silly, faux new agey approach.
The point is to be a stand out in this business, you must stand out. In all ways – from
your work to the way you treat your staff and even to how you follow up with those
you may NOT have to ever follow up with.
When we establish a pattern of exceptionalism, that pattern follows us into other
areas of our personal and professional lives.
I think our goal setting exercises from the previous week’s assignment must now be
tempered with some cold hard facts on how we will do those things with
And the cool thing about being in the ‘exceptional’ mode is that it is really pretty
easy, and it flows so smoothly. I think it is because being exceptional is the normal
state for us humans. The extraneous forces that push it away from us are quite
powerful. From pop-culture to politics to entertainment to where we get educated, to
stand out and work to be better is seen as a problem. “Go along to get along” can be
the prevailing process. Striving is seen as too ambitious, too ‘full of themselves’ – too
‘arrogant’ to think that they could actually do something cool.
So for this exercise we are going to look at being exceptional and then we can take
this exercise back to our goals and further make them real in our minds. How? By
envisioning each goal as being something we will achieve with exceptionalism. We
will also define some exceptional tactics to help get those goals off the ground and
into the air!
It’s time to fly.
(excerpted from Chapter 8 of my new book – as yet untitled)