12 Ways to Become Extraordinary
Some leaders become extraordinary. But, average is normal.
You climb and struggle toward extraordinary. Mediocrity is a comfortable slide.
Pain is the point where average becomes extraordinary.
Extraordinary leadership requires:
- Fierce focus.
- Finely honed skills.
- Fanatical commitment.
Extraordinary leaders are always falling short. Only the average arrive.
- Look for minimums. “What’s the least we have to do.”
- Wonder why extraordinary leaders work so hard.
- Ease up when things are going well.
- Rest on titles and past performance.
- Accept “good enough.”
- Make excuses.
- Drift, delay, and postpone.
Average leaders say, “Good enough.”
Extraordinary leaders say, “How can we be better.”
12 ways to become extraordinary:
- Invest inordinate amounts of time and energy into self-development.
- Endure ridicule from the mediocre. “I can’t believe you put that much time into your presentation.” “Why don’t you just relax?”
- Despise mediocrity.
- Enjoy constructive criticism, instruction, and practice.
- Reject the idea you can excel at many things. Being a jack of all trades and master of none is unacceptable to extraordinary leaders.
- Understand that falling short is normal when you’re reaching higher.
- Deal quickly and aggressively with failure. Extraordinary leaders investigate their failures with a fine tooth comb.
- Look for opportunity, not excuses.
- Get uncomfortable when you feel comfortable.
- Pressure yourself.
- Become fanatical about details.
- Fear failure.
Becoming an extraordinary leader means working when you don’t have to and improve when others are satisfied.
What does pressing toward extraordinary look like to you?
Dan, I like the distinction between mediocre as “having arrived” and extraordinary as always reaching- Effective leaders do indeed seem to understand what is at stake in settling with “good enough” both in terms of opportunity cost and unintended collateral cost.
Your 12 suggestions are great-
I stumbled a bit though, on suggestion #5-“Reject the idea you can excel at many things. Being a jack of all trades and master of none is unacceptable to extraordinary leaders.”-
Is it that exceptional leaders reject the arrogance of omnipotence, or that they are unable to know when they need help? Maybe extraordinary leaders can excel at many things.. but certainly not all things. Perhaps extraordinary leaders know their own limits and are effective at enlisting quality help, when necessary?
Thanks again for another thoughtful and thought provoking post!
Keep them coming!
Thanks Lori. If I had to choose the #1 quality of an extraordinary leader, I think it would be the idea of pursuit vs. arrival.
Thanks for bringing up #5. I wasn’t thinking about arrogance so much as capacity. We can’t be extraordinary at many things. Think of an Olympic athlete who runs the 100 meters. They can’t be extraordinary at the 100 and the 400. A great marathon runner would be terrible at the 100.
I really like the idea that knowing when we need help is essential for us to achieve extraordinary results.
Because extraordinary requires so much energy and focus, I feel we can only be extraordinary on a personal level at very few things.
I’m glad you brought this up and shared your thoughts.
Not a fan of #12 but the rest is awesome. I think leaders should expect failure as part of the price to move ahead, learn and grow.
Thanks valeriekeener. So glad you joined in today. I like the idea that expecting failure is part of moving ahead.
I’m a huge fan of #12. 🙂 Personally, I find fear a huge motivator. For example, the fear of giving a lousy presentation drives me to prepare like a maniac. I always feel a bit UNenlightened when I bring up the power of fear in my life. But, it’s a reality for me.
Thanks again for jumping in. Here’s to a great week.
Loved the post Dan. As for feeling UNenlightened when bringing up the power of fear in your life, there is nothing UNenlightened about self-awareness. Also, as you said,”Understand that falling short is normal when you’re reaching higher.”
Thanks Alan. I’m glad you joined in. Best wishes for a great week.
I like fear of failure as a motivator, I don’t like it if it is paralyzing and individuals refuse to try new growth opportunities because of “fear of failure”.
“average – leader” is an oxymoron …thanks for a good starter to the new week, keep us pressing.
Thanks Ken. It may be an oxymoron. But, I bet we’ll both agree that “average” is way too common in the ranks of leadership and management.
Here’s to pressing on! Cheers
..yes we do 🙂
Hi Dan, moving forward looks like incurably curious. I look for new information everyday I knew nothing about. I find plenty.
It looks like understanding the biology of behavior when everyone else looks at nothing really. They feel a deeper understanding will somehow come Bout repeating lame stuff no one applies.
It looks like realistically looking at OUR results at least in the USA. 17 Trillion in debt and 80% of US employees feel no one cares about them at work. And being disgusted by that and doing something about it.
It looks like average people spend 5% focusing on NOW and 95% on fearing the future or regretting the past. And working to expand my 5% focus on NOW to as great an increase I can.
It looks like looking at human beings as a whole.
It means looking to the newest cutting edge understanding of humanity and consciousness and operating from that place not regurgitating old lame stuff no one is applying or our results would be drastically better.
It looks like standing on Principle with Integrity and realizing True Leadership is standing firm for ones beliefs, not a popularity contest.
I choose to stand for what I believe in than fall in line with losers.
Yep that is the ticket making copies!!
The Dude Abides.
Back to epic oxy production.
Thanks Scott. I’m a huge fan of curiosity. Glad you added it.
An open mind is like a parachute, functions better when open.
People open their minds all possibilities open up. Closed minds people fearfully just trying to hold on to what they got.
Not an effective strategy in an ever changing world.
I would like to read a 13rd one – how manage to balance personal and professional life!
Thanks Sergio. Glad you added to the list. Have a great week.
I enjoy the “pep” talk and guidance on what it takes to lead. But the basic question concerning leadership has to be : “lead where” ? “mastery of what to what end?”
I find the entire piece highly inspiring,especially the distinction between average and extraordinary leaders.But No. 12 is somewhat unclear.I
#12 — fear failure, is a major motivator. Those who fear failure work harder than those who don’t.
Some of your ideas are great…. but the jack of all trades part….. I disagree with that one…. Leaders explore new horizons and incorporate new strategies into the original…..
Thanks ksfinblog. Great seeing you again. How can someone be extraordinary in many areas at the same time?
She has be to a woman of course….
Growing extraordinary leaders have to tread carefully when amongst mediocre leaders. Mediocre leaders are mediocre because they lack the capacity to push themselves for the greater good and often fall upon what they want for themselves first. Unfortunately, I guess out of self preservation, some mediocre leaders will see a unrecognized selfless extraordinary leader as a threat and will sabotage their advancement. They will focus on your weakest attributes as a tactic to drain your confidence in leading. If you’re an extraordinary leader in this situation, find your allies and mentors quickly to boaster your confidence to counteract attacks on your confidence.
Thanks Michael. Powerful comment. You ended with some of the most useful advice any of us can put into action.
Topics like this keep me motivated and on-target in a world that seems to accept “just getting by”. I do have a little difference of opinion with the “fear failure” aspect of becoming extraordinary. I say this because I think that really good leaders understand that taking chances and exposing oneself to the uncomfortable is the point where most growth occurs. (Just my personal view). I don’t fear failure- I merely don’t accept it. Two good books about this are Daring Greatly and The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown.
Thanks Kevin. I’m delighted you shared your perspective. I love Brene’ Brown’s work. It’s life changing.
All 12 at the same time? Too much obsession with detail can be counter productive. The question is, where do you focus your eye for detail?
Thanks Rajiv. If a reader gets a couple ideas from a list, it’s a good list. 🙂
Oh, more than a couple I can tell you. More than a couple.
Loved the list Dan. Have been investing in #1 for some time but struggle with 5.
I think another thing that exceptional leaders are good at is knowing who to engage with and when to walk away. Much time and energy can be wasted on naysayers – Is each struggle worth it?
As for 6 & 7, I always try to fall forward. Some of by biggest successes were on the back of a failure.
Wow I have a lot of work ahead of me. Great list! Just what I needed. Guess now I know that I’m on that “Average” stage still…
This is an amazing list and spot on target. I’ve always told people it’s easy to be ordinary and most people are. Being extraordinary is not so easy. As well, if you want to have an extraordinary life you must do extraordinary things.
Absolutely LOVE this gem of a statement: Get uncomfortable when you feel comfortable. Our Ops Director always tells us that! If we are comfortable and skating along feeling good…we aren’t tapping in to our potential or trying hard enough. LOVE this blog! Keep them coming!