Two years ago (which at this particular moment seems like a lifetime) I came across a great presentation on the true meaning of success. At that time, the American mood was pretty grim as companies and individuals were still experiencing the catastrophic effects of the 2008-09 financial disasters. I had (fortunately) just gotten hired in a new communications role that seemed to have potential.
I happened across a small e-book that provided a some focus in a very crazy world. Over seventy authors came together to provide insight on, What Matters Now. The book’s messaging provided, at least for me, a mental “push the reset button” and allowed me to re-prioritize. Seth Godin, a world-renowned author, TED speaker and marketer, posted the e-book on his blog. (You can download it here.)
Through a series of events, and a little research, the book led me to the following article. Seth wrote the article in 2007 for the Guardian and most of the content holds true today. I thought I’d share:
“You’re either boring or you stand out. You’re either invisible or remarkable. And, all your life, everyone has been pushing you to fit in. All your life
you’re told to keep your head down, work hard, don’t make waves and get it done. What rubbish. Here, in 10 easy steps, is how to grow. How to stand out. How to get noticed, make a difference and have a shot at the big time.
- Understand the urgency of the situation. Half-measures simply won’t do. The only way to grow is to abandon your strategy of doing what you did yesterday, but better. Commit.
- Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it? If not, then you’re average, and average is for losers.
- Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.
- Extremism in the pursuit of remarkability is no sin. In fact, it’s practically a requirement. People in first place, those considered the best in the world, these are the folks that get what they want. Rock stars have groupies because they’re stars, not because they’re good looking.
- Remarkability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn’t always matter which edge, more that you’re at (or beyond) the edge.
- Not everyone appreciates your efforts to be remarkable. In fact, most people don’t. So what? Most people are ostriches, heads in the sand, unable to help you anyway. Your goal isn’t to please everyone. Your goal is to please those that actually speak up, spread the word, buy new things or hire the talented.
- If it’s in a manual, if it’s the accepted wisdom, if you can find it in a Dummies book, then guess what? It’s boring, not remarkable. Part of what it takes to do something remarkable is to do something first and best. Roger Bannister was remarkable. The next guy, the guy who broke Bannister’s record wasn’t. He was just faster … but it doesn’t matter.
- It’s not really as frightening as it seems. They keep the masses in line by threatening them (us) with all manner of horrible outcomes if we dare to step out of line. But who loses their jobs at the mass layoffs? Who has trouble finding a new gig? Not the remarkable minority, that’s for sure.
- If you put it on a T-shirt, would people wear it? No use being remarkable at something that people don’t care about. Not ALL people, mind you, just a few. A few people insanely focused on what you do is far far better than thousands of people who might be mildly interested, right?
- What’s fashionable soon becomes unfashionable. While you might be remarkable for a time, if you don’t reinvest and reinvent, you won’t be for long. Instead of resting on your laurels, you must commit to being remarkable again quite soon.
“But wait!” I hear you say. “My boss won’t let me. I want to do something great, but she won’t let me.”
This is, of course, nonsense. Your boss won’t let you because what you’re really asking is: “May I do something silly and fun and, if it doesn’t work, will you take the blame – but if it does work, I get the credit?” What would you say to an offer like that?
The alternative sounds scary, but I don’t think it is. The alternative is to just be remarkable. Go all the way to the edge. Not in a big thing, perhaps, but in a little one. Find some area where you have a tiny bit of authority and run with it. After you succeed, you’ll discover you’ve got more leeway for next time. And if you fail? Don’t worry. Your organisation secretly wants employees willing to push hard even if it means failing every so often.
And when? When should you start being remarkable? How’s this: if you don’t start tomorrow, you’re not really serious. Tomorrow night by midnight or don’t bother. You’re too talented to sit around waiting for the perfect moment. Go start.” via How to be remarkable | Money | The Guardian.
This still hangs on my desk. Get started!