Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen !
When faced with a seemingly insurmountable list of things to do that all seem to have equal priorities, the only solution is to just GRAB SOMETHING and tackle it. Today's grab bag pick is this issue of Ramblings.
In January's Ramblings (http://www.ringold.net/12_RefusetobeAverage.html) we talked about refusing to be average, and I stated that one of the first steps to NOT being average was to make a list of goals for 2005. Very few people make a list each year, and I challenged people to send me their 2005 goals list, and said that I would be their cheerleader.
Out of 96 subscribers at that time, only FOUR people sent me a copy of their goals. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that people didn't make a list but... odds are ;-) It's possible that their goals were very private and they didn't want to share them with a stranger (yes... I admit it. I'm strange) or maybe it just slipped their minds. But, for whatever reason only four people out of 96 sent me their goals -- roughly 3 percent (3.125, to be precise).
My good friend, confidant and advisor Mitch Mitchell of T T Mitchell Consulting (http://www.ttmitchellconsulting.com) mirrored those same sentiments to the readership of his management newsletters: "Send me (him) your 2005 goals, and I will be your cheerleader..." I haven't checked with Mitch to see who took him up on it, but if anyone did I'm willing to bet it was only about... 3 percent.
There seems to be something magical about 3 percent!
These 3-percenters are not considered to be average. They have done things in their lives that are decidedly not average. They have gone beyond, and I'm willing be bet they all had sharply defined goals.
- Out of 100 people who go to a seminar to learn, would you care to guess what percentage that research shows will actually do something to use the information they learned? About 3 percent.
- When direct mailers send out advertising pieces to attract new business, do you know what percentage research shows will respond to those mailings? About 3 percent.
- Out of the working class of America, when people retire at age 65 -- or whatever the magic age is -- guess what percentage of them will have enough money to live on! Yeah. About 3 percent.
- Right now, about what percentage of people in the United State are considered wealthy, you think? (not too long ago, that meant earning over $100,000 a year, but I think the wealth "floor" has gone up.) About 3 percent.
- Would you care to hazard a guess at about what percentage of people in the world control 97% of the world's wealth? How'd you guess? About 3 percent !!!!
So, after I received so few responses (goal lists), I thought about it a while, and I realized what a tough task that is for so many people. I don't mean the act of writing the goals; I mean the act of not being average! Because our society today TEACHES us, encourages and grooms us... to be AVERAGE, in many cases.
Think about it. We are taught to be like everyone else, to blend, to not stand out. "Don't draw attention to yourself," we're told. In many job situations, we're taught NOT to out perform our peers, so we don't upset the status quo. "What you doing, man? Don't do that. Pace yourself. You'll burn yourself out before the day's over..." Performance evaluations are written for Pass / Fail or Met / Not Met criteria, and the words "superior and excellent" are removed from the evaluation forms. Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory are the ratings.
Who do you think that's for? The performers? Do you think the person who WANTS to excel is going to bust his or her butt for a "Satisfactory" rating, when the person working next to them doing the bare minimum required is also going to get a "Satisfactory" ? What lesson is that teaching?
Kids sports, often times "everybody" gets a trophy -- no one is left out because we don't want them to feel bad that they didn't get a trophy. (At a certain age, I can see the value in that.. but not for long.) But what lesson does that teach?
Several of my family members are teachers! God bless them! You gotta be a saint to be a teacher in this day and age. So many horror stories -- heard and read. Kids can't receive a failing grade in school; bad for their self image. Schools have been SUED! and lost. What lesson does that teach?
Political Correctness -- my personal favorite. PC has been used to effectively remove any remotely negative connotation from life and make everything "okay". Grading on the big curve of life. There are no deficits, no failures, no incompetencies... only..."challenges". Well you know what? Sometimes, they're not "challenged". Sometimes, they're just bad, or incapable or inept, or not suited for the job or the task or the position or whatever, and we spend a lot of time (and money) trying to match a square peg to a round hole, and what lesson does that teach?
Don't get me wrong, now. I'm not saying that there should be no considerations for anyone. People don't need to be unnecessarily cruel or rude, but the system we're engaged in often discourages excellence, in favor of complacency, status quo & good'nuff (sometimes also known as "satisfactory" or "average.")
Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. Who are they? About 3 percent !
When you go for that job interview and there's only one position, and 20 people applying? Not everyone is going to get a trophy. The persons that demonstrate that they are "average... just like the other 18..." will be waving annoyingly at the 3-percenter who gets the position, and could demonstrate some degree of excellence. When you go to college and want to be on the team, it's not the kid who got the trophy "just because" that's going to get picked; it's the kid that performs. The scholarships don't go to the "average" people; the biggest promotions don't go to the "good'nuffs".
When you're hiring for your company, who do YOU want? Mr / Ms Average? or Mr / Ms Excellent? When you're getting your taxes done, who do you want doing them. Mr Average? How about when you're getting your car fixed, teeth cleaned, gall bladder removed, hair cut or new furnace put in? Paging Mr. Average! I think not.
And being average is EXPENSIVE! When you go to a professional sporting event, the average people are in the bleachers paying to see the 3-percenters! When you need an attorney, the average people are paying big bucks to a 3-percenter. The average people pay in dollar$... and the 3-percenters pay up front in what we call sweat equity.
- "Pardon me, Mr. Jones; I'd like to introduce you to your attorney, Mr. C. Average. He'll be representing you today. By the way, your opponent has Mr. 3-percenter Straight-A's representing him, but... it's okay. Mr. C Average had a lot of company so you're in good hands."
Now, is this absolute? Of course not. There will always be bad breaks, favorite picks, close calls and just plain "wrong", but not ALL the time. "The will to succeed is not NEARLY as important as the will to prepare to succeed." I forget who wrote that, but it is true. Better to be prepared for an opportunity that never comes, than to have opportunity knock and not be prepared.
Does everyone need to be a 3-percenter? No. Not everyone can be a 3-percenter at everything. But nearly everyone can be a 3-percenter at *something*. If everyone in your office was a 3-percenter at *something*, you'd have a more powerful team. If you are a 3-percenter at *something*, then you have something to give, and you'll feel better about yourself for being able to give it.
Don't worry about the people who want you to "not stand out" or rock the "status quo", because they don't want you making them look bad. They don't want you raising the bar, because then they might have to look at themselves and say wow... I'm not doing anything. There's comfort in being able to say "I'm just like them... We're all the same." And if you truly don't want to be a 3-percenter, then... don't! That's fine. Just be careful you're not denying yourself the satisfaction just because someone else needs to feel comfortable. Birds of a feather flock together. It's true. Look at the people who surround you... and you'll find out a lot about yourself. If you like what you see, then great.
If you don't, then maybe you need to make that goal list out.
As always, thank you for reading! I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback and, hopefully, to you passing on the newsletter.
Have an AWESOME day.
"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their committment to excellence. (Bishop Gore)
RESOLUTION for 2005:
REFUSING to be Average
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Liverpool, NY 13090-2526
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