I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ – Muhammad Ali
Very few leaders get the chance to become exceptional.
Most leaders are average, and that’s okay for them because they feel they have arrived, are comfortable, and okay with being okay.
I mean if you can do something okay, why bother adding more effort? You’re meeting the requirements, and it’s just enough. It’s enough for you.
Why Exceptional Matters
The journey to becoming exceptional isn’t something that just happens overnight. It takes time, courage, failure, struggle, more failure; patience, and some know that they may never get there, but still pursue it.
Who’s willing to actually put themselves through all this pain and failure when there’s an easier way out?
The ones who aren’t okay with finding an easy way out.
The ones who have a deeper desire for greatness, and personal achievement.
The ones who are exceptional, that’s who.
The Characteristics of an Average “leader”:
1. When things seem to start going well, they settle for good, and don’t take the risk to improve.
2. They correlate change with pain, and don’t see it as a necessary part of growth.
3. Are okay with “okay”.
4. Use the quota of “good enough”. They accept what is working, and don’t look for alternative ways to do something more effectively as it requires time, effort and energy.
5. Relate their technical skills, ability, and performance with the titles given to employers. They don’t look past what’s on paper.
This Is What Exceptional Leaders Do
1. View a company, as a community of like-minded people, and not as a machine. They look at the individual skills each person has to offer to the company, and don’t rely on titles, and what they did in the past; they look at current skills and effort.
2. They don’t see feedback or criticism as negative, but rather as a chance for improvement, and a better way to achieve common goals for themselves and/or their company.
3. When something goes wrong, they don’t go looking for someone to blame, or look at the excuses, but rather at the opportunity that has presented itself to fix the “problem”, and move past it.
4. Are okay with expecting a setback, and know that on the long path to becoming exceptional, there will be multiple failures along the way. This can be used as a motivational tactic or as a way to thoroughly investigate their own failures and work on a solution.
Here Are 4 Ways to Become Exceptional:
1. Work under deadlines. If you never give yourself an end date you will just let it keep going on forever. There will be no inclination to achieve what you are working towards. Also deadlines can increase your personal work ethic, and make you work on your discipline. View each deadline as a step closer to achieving your goals.
2. Look from above. Notice the opportunities that are presented to you, regardless of the situation you’re in. Listen closely, and watch attentively to every small detail.
3. Stay uncomfortable. Don’t become comfortable. You want to pressure yourself so you get the chance to take on greater challenges and obstacles. Otherwise, you step in the realm of comfort, and become okay with mediocrity.
4. Invest, invest, and invest. Always invest in one constant thing; yourself. Each hour invested is time gained towards honing your craft, towards self-mastery.
The Good News and The Bad News
We unfortunately live in a world that is dominated by egos. Thoughts like “I must be first, otherwise I will lose” are common in the workplace.
This is where an exceptional leader, or someone who has taken a deeper interest in his or her own development is susceptible to sabotage.
Those who are average and are staying the same, or even stagnating, will see those as doing better as a danger to themselves. May it be their egos, self-preservation, guilt, anger, or any sort of personal insecurity; they will try and sabotage your own development, growth, and advancement.
In times like these it is important to redefine what you care for, and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Strengthening, and solidifying your “why” will give you an inner motivation to help you continue pursuing your goals. Also, find like-minded friends, mentors, co-workers that will help reaffirm your strengths and qualities that you possess.
The Bottom Line
Some just want to get by, while others will pursue greatness.
The main difference between an exceptional leader and the common “leader” is their commitment. They are willing to put in the time when they aren’t working, brush up on personal skills, strengthen their weaknesses, research ways to improve themselves, while the rest settle with “good enough.”
This is because exceptional leaders know they will NEVER arrive, nor do they have any intention to. They are on a journey towards the pursuit of excellence, and it’s a journey they’ve committed to.
Have you committed?
Questions: What skills do you notice in average leaders? What skills do you see in exceptional leaders? What does it take to become exceptional? How are you working towards becoming an exceptional leader?
P.S I’ve put quotations around Average “leader” as it’s clearly an oxymoron.