“You are great! Really, you are outstanding!” my new client enthused loudly.
“Thank you!” I replied quite modestly but thinking that the last time my head swelled like this was when it collided with a field hockey ball, many years ago.
It’s not like I had not heard some version of this comment before. But this time it was coming from a man who had approached me via the internet. He had read my profile on LinkedIn and thought I could help him with a problem he was having.
I listened to his problem and I was able to give him a practical, implementable solution after just twenty minutes of conversation. Simple as it was, it represented a big breakthrough for his small business.
Hey, I’m a Business Breakthrough Specialist! That’s what I’m supposed to be able to do!
But back on earth, I started to ask myself a whole heap of questions:
Am I really outstanding?
And if the answer is “yes” how did I become so?
What makes the "outstanding" outstanding?
Is there a process you can follow to become outstanding?
How do you recognize outstanding?
Reflecting on these questions, I decided to write about moving from good to outstanding. Not only because I love writing but to help you, by sharing the steps I used to deliberately move myself from being just good to really outstanding.
But first...my good to outstanding story…
It started a long before but I want you to pick it up at the point where I decided to become a full-time Consultant/Business Trainer in 2001.
If you know yuh girl, she decided that right out the gates she wanted to be a top drawer Consultant. You see, being good or average never really cut it for me.
So I opened a spreadsheet and the research began. I selected a number of those high-profile persons who was doing what I wanted to do and who had branded themselves “guru”.
After a while, I identified 17 key qualities that they had in common which set them apart. Then I added 8 of my own, including knowledge of the consulting industry, which brought them to 25.
I now had a tool which I could use to evaluate myself and a standard or benchmark to measure "outstanding" as consulting goes.
Wha loss man! (Barbadian expression) Of these 25 attributes I had 7. If I was going to become a Top Drawer Consultant and a superior Training Facilitator any time soon, I had some serious self-development to do. More importantly I had to make sure that I did not get in my own way...
14 months later, I had reduced the list to 2 and even now, sometimes I still struggle with marketing myself.
These apart, did I move from good to outstanding?
You bet I did!
So...What does outstanding look like?
Well, in taking this comparative and competitive approach, I learnt that being outstanding had little to do with how I lined up with the “apparent” greats.
Outstanding is when you figure out how to do what you’re already doing, but in such a way, that you get big results from small, smart changes which add up to really big wins.
Outstanding is when you can anticipate the future for your client, meet them here in the present and set them on a path to a future, that exactly matches their needs and personality.
When you can take what you learn and apply it smartly and change your entire life in an instant, that's outstanding!
In a nutshell, It's your ability to continuously work at becoming better than your best self.
It’s a journey about self-discovery that leads to self-mastery. And it’s about doing what you love and loving what you do.
So, can you really reduce that journey into 5 steps? Well I did. And just for you, here they are.
1. Decide to be outstanding
Yes…you have to! It won’t happen by your sitting and wishing for it.
Many people flirt with “being outstanding” and may even become engaged to it. However, when they realise what is involved, they quickly seek out on an affair with her less demanding distant cousin, “being good.”
You see, being outstanding requires consistently high standards, uncompromising commitment to continuous learning and honest hard work.
Add to this controlling your mental and emotional states, communicating clearly and effectively and having love and enthusiasm for what you do.
Even then, you’re still only scratching the surface.
So decide on your standard for "outstanding" and determine how far away you are from that standard.
Be brutally honest now! I was…even though I went down the long road on the wrong side and had to come all the way back up on the other side.
Then you’re going to take action by figuring out your first baby step and taking it.
Jump straight to #5 if you want more advice on how to take action.
2. Commit to continuous learning
I know. You’re thinking that this is so "I-have-heard-it-all-before."
But I say "you-can't-hear-it-enough!" What separates those who are merely average from those who are truly awesome, is their commitment to continuous learning.
And it’s not just about learning something new every day and patting yourself on your back. Outstanding people know “how to learn” and have a system for learning.
For example, ever so often, I list my 5 top skills, that is, those skills where I have superior knowledge and experience. Then I list 5 things I need to learn to do what I do better.
Beginning with my strongest skill, I look at my "to learn" list and select the thing I need to learn that would help me to upscale that skill.
Why do I approach learning this way?
Well, I know that however much I think I know, there is always something I don’t know.
But far more important than that, I rely on my strongest skills to come up with the best solutions for my clients, which keeps me constantly in the money.
By having a learning system that focuses on strengthening my strengths instead of my weaknesses, guarantees that my overall performance is consistently outstanding. In other words, I am constantly moving from just learning to mastering.
So, go on…commit yourself to continuous learning. It’s a critical step on your journey from good to outstanding.
3. Learn to control your mental and emotional states
A colleague of mine once explained to me why my ladylike behavior didn’t "cut it."
According to her, it was unnatural, unexpected and made people uncomfortable. On the other hand, her capacity to fly off the handle, cuss out people and be generally rude and boorish was more acceptable because it was what people expected.
Say what? If she’s right then we are in a sad place.
Look, the single, defining difference between the "good" and the "outstanding" is self-control.
If you believe that it’s your fundamental right to have a persistent mental state of ennui, resignation or “angry at life” you won’t even achieve “good” far less "excellent.”
I want you to understand that “outstanding” requires you to control your mental and emotional states, rather than letting them control you.
Moreover, when you control your emotional and mental states, you strengthen your resolve to resist "the easy way out" and other temptations, in their many inviting forms. In particular, you don't get caught up in the “this ain’t me" and "I don’t like this!” attitude trap.
So take control of your life and move yourself rapidly forward to you ultimate destination called “outstanding.”
4. Know when, where and how to ask for help
All my life, in my circles, I was the one that had the information that everybody wanted. Not because I was brighter, but because of a voracious appetite for knowledge backed by an incredible focus on learning.
All my life, I watched many of my friends suffer and sometimes be prepared to fail, before they would not ask me for help. Most times they did not know how to ask and other times they just waited until it was too late.
So when is the best time to ask for help? The answer is simple: the minute you discover that you need it.
Where you start is just as simple. You begin by asking those around you. If you’re surrounded by the right people including your chosen mentors, you will have to look no further.
How you ask matters. In asking, you have to provide sufficient information about the problem or issue so that the person can understand it and advise you appropriately. Be careful not to waste people's time by not preparing properly before you approach them for help.
If you can’t “humble” yourself and expose your weaknesses so you can get some help, your journey from good to outstanding will be so much longer and harder.
5. Take action in the "now"
Yeah…take action. But take the right type of action. And take it right away, no procrastinating.
The right type of action will move you forward towards that one thing, that one goal that you want to achieve.
And you need to know the difference between taking action and engaging in what I call "distracting activities".
Here's an example.
A few years ago, a friend of mine had what I thought was an excellent business idea.
He researched the market, formed a company, researched the market some more, sourced the products he would need, ordered a website and then repeated all this about 3 times.
These were mere distracting activities.
What he needed to do was to go out and get at least 3 contracts, deliver on these and rinse and repeat these actions. That would have moved him forward!
At the same time, I had a great business idea too.
I researched the market, borrowed the money, started the business, kept it open for 3 years, closed it down when unexpected problems surfaced and my friend was still researching the market.
Notice that I took action towards my goal, even as I risked and experienced failure. That was better than just engaging in activities.
On your journey from good to outstanding, take action...the one that takes you towards your goal. Learn to identify the simple first step you have to take, and take it. Keep it simple so that you can remain enthusiastic longer.
Take action now. Even when the results are not what you expect, the lessons are invaluable.
Your next "outstanding" step…
By now you can agree with me that moving from good to outstanding is not only about the destination. It’s also about the journey and the tremendous learning and growth and success.
I'm really excited about the fact that YOU are never going to settle for average or just being competent again. How do I know? Easy...I've just given you a 5-step blueprint which you can use, if only to get you started.
So don't wait, take action right now. Decide to be outstanding and then GO ALL IN!
I'm rooting for you...
Oh! Don't forget...
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