“You have to learn the rules of the game and then you have to play better than anyone else.”
You are good at your job. Last year you received a promotion based on your accomplishments. It made you very proud. With your added salary you decided to upgrade your vacation plans for this year. Instead of driving to Orlando for a week you are going to fly to Aruba and spend a week on its silky white sandy beaches. You feel very good about your life right now. All you have to do is keep this up for the next 15-20 years and your retirement is set. You have mastered the art of being successful. You can now do what you’ve seen many others do. You can be a great employee and be rewarded with a nice stable retirement. After all isn’t that the rule? Work at a good job for 30 years and retire comfortably. Let’s face it that formula works. You have the ability to make that happen. Yet you are much more than a successful employee. You have the potential to live a life much greater than most. Most people follow the rules and retire comfortably. Yet some people find exception to the rules. Some decide not to only be a successful employee. Some decide to be an exceptional employee. Some decide to not be an employee at all and leave the company to start their own.
Being Exceptional is a Choice
There is a definitive difference between being successful and being exceptional. Were you ever graded on a curve when you were in school? The curve was based on the highest grade achieved in the class. Generally if you were within 10% of the highest grade you received an “A”. If you were within 20% you received a “B”. This patterned continued all the way down to the failing grade of an “F”. The successful people received an A, B or C. Only the exceptional person set the bar. The exceptional person received the best grade in the class. How did that person receive that grade? Were they just smarter than the rest? Even though there are circumstances that could have caused that person to be smarter on that test the most likely answer is that person did something that no one else did. That person studied 30 minutes longer than everyone else. That person read a book 6 months ago that discussed something similar to the topic on the test so it was easier to relate to the content. That person didn’t stay up late the night before and was well rested for the test. Deciding to be exceptional is a choice and that person decided to be successful. What have you decided? How do you even know?
How to Be Exceptional
The best way to know if you are deciding to be exceptional in any circumstance is take a minute to ask yourself the question; “what would most people do?” Don’t just ask what most normal people would do. Ask yourself what would most successful people do in this same situation. Once you have that answer you need to decide to do something more. That decision to do just a little more is what will separate you from just being successful and move you closer to being exceptional. There are many examples of how this works and here a just a few:
- You want to get in great shape. People who are in great shape do two things. They eat a healthy diet and they exercise. Yet the exceptionally fit people all have done more than just eat healthy and exercise. Most have added yoga or meditation to their routine to work on the mind and the body. Most have set short-term goals that aren’t necessary for them to stay fit but it challenges them to accomplish something just because they want to. Others decide to share their experience with others by writing a book, hosting a podcast or doing personal training. Any of which will make them experts on being fit and lead them to exceptional fitness.
- You want to be financially secure for the future. You can save, save and save some more. This will always work over time. It is the right thing to do. You can also progress up the ladder at your company and receive more income and therefore save more. Yet to be exceptional you will have to exponentially increase the revenue you bring home every month. You need to solve a problem for people and monetize it. You need to learn about investing so you can build a portfolio that outperforms the market. You need to put off driving the new car you can afford and drive the one that you have since there is nothing wrong with it.
- You want to do well at your current job. You can do this by doing everything that is asked of you and do it well. You will be successful. However, in order to be exceptional you need to do more than what is asked of you. You need to complete a project that no one asked you to do and do it without asking if it is ok. You need to learn and eventually teach a subject that has nothing to do with your current role but is important to the business. You need to volunteer to help your co-workers and/or leadership team with anything just because you want to. You need to put together a plan on how you will develop into an exceptional employee in the next 6 months.
- You want to be a generally good person. You can do this by not breaking laws and being respectful to others. You will be successful. To be an exceptionally good person you will need to develop yourself. You will need to be consistent in your habits. Habits that have been proven over time make you a good person (meditating, giving, loving, and communicating). To truly be exceptional you must share your development successes with others so that they can improve themselves as well. Just like the examples above you should write a book, host a podcast or teach a class on personal development.
These are just a few examples of how you can strive to be exceptional. A simple search on Google will provide many examples of the rules for success. That is a great place to start. Depending on your current circumstances you may need to do just that. However with every one of those rules there is an exception to the rule. That exception doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow the rule to be successful. The exception means that if you want to be exceptional you will have to do more than the just the rule. If you are reading this I’m pretty sure the rules for success are your normal. You are fully capable of being successful. However, you are striving to be exceptional. You want to be exceptionally fit. You want to have an exceptional financial status. You want to be an exceptional employer, employer or sole proprietor. You want to be an exceptionally good person. In order to achieve that you will need to decide today that you will be the exception and not the rule. So find your success and then add that little bit more so you can be exceptional. We are all looking forward to experiencing the exceptional you. As always I wish you the best and remind you to enjoy the journey.