The time to panic is the time when you can still do something about it.
Taking action today on a long-term problem is easier, cheaper, more effective, and far less time-consuming than waiting for it to come an emergency.
Why not start panicking in advance? Why not start taking emergency measures while there’s still a chance that those emergency measures will actually accomplish something?
Every organization that gets into trouble falters because it waited too long to do the stuff that should have been done a long time ago. Panic early, not late, and your fire drills will actually pay off.
(From The Big Moo, edited by Seth Godin)
The first step to becoming extraordinary is simply to stop being ordinary.
Here are five suggestions to help you:
- Avidly collect firsthand experiences– Sherlock Holmes’ greatest claim to fame was his power of observation. Make the effort to observe and understand the nuances of what is going on in your organization. Just one among many leaders? You are still the only “you”, and you know your experiences better than anyone else. Get out from behind your desk, and know what’s happening out there. First-hand observations are critically important-make it a part of your regular routine to gather them.
- Have a “beginner’s mind” – set aside what you know and be open to looking at things with a fresh perspective. You have extensive education and experience, you may understand tradition, you probably have preconceived notions about things. Don’t forget the importance of starting with a blank page when confronted with new opportunity.
- Keep an “idea wallet” so you don’t lose momentary insights– anthropologists carry a notebook and camera to record their discoveries. Try recording ideas in real-time – make use of current technologies like your mobile phone with camera, or do it the old-fashioned way with a journal or index card. When you see or hear something interesting, record it for later development and exploration with your team.
- Become a proactive “idea-broker” and practice continuous cross-pollination– Develop solid, trusted relationships across departments and lines in your organization so that you can understand and apply the lessons you learn in one context to another. Combine learning and collaboration so that you become a conduit for fresh ideas for your team.
- Embrace the power of storytelling – telling a story has an emotional appeal that transcends the raw data we often collect. Listen to your team. Encourage them to listen to those they come into contact with. Let the stories that come out of those conversations become the vehicles for communicating your message. It will be powerful, memorable, and uniquely yours.
Stop being ordinary TODAY. Reject routine and set yourself and your team on a course to becoming extraordinary.
The world will notice.
inspired by and adapted from The Big Moo, edited by Seth Godin