I had a problem in high school. I was smart. But I was also dumb.
I focused on one thing: Getting A’s. I got so many A’s that I ended up as the valedictorian of my class. I beat out the Yang sisters. They are probably beating me out right now in their careers. How do I know? Because they aren’t on Facebook. Anybody who has resisted that time-sucking website has to be doing well for themselves. (Just Googled them. They are doctors. Doctors who do a lot of research. They win.).
Anyway, I had a very simple, but narrow goal: win a trophy. My plan included taking as many Advanced Placement classes as possible to get the additional point on my GPA for each class.
AP Calculus, English, History, German, etc. German was my ace in the hole. I succeeded. If it weren’t for my B’s in typing/computer class in the 10th grade, it would have been no question.
I met my expectation because I knew how to game the system.
I Did Not Exceed Expectations
I made no connection between this goal of valedictorian to understanding what it means to create value for people. I sincerely believe that every high school student should take a class in sales and the idea of creating value. I don’t know what that class would be called, but it should be imperative. New home construction and remodeling should also be a required class given my recent struggles. But I digress.
Average or Exceeding Expectations?
Today, I listened to a sermon that was all about living above mediocrity and exceeding expectations.
The preacher’s point was that we all tend to try to find what the expectations are and meet them. We don’t go any further. We punch the time clock, put in our hours, try to politic and do damage control if someone complains about us, and then we punch the clock and head on home.
We become average by working that way. Meeting expectations or bumping up against them is where most of us live.
The challenge of the sermon was to exceed expectations. Can we actually do more than what is expected? Can those of us who work, get such good, high quality and effective work done in a shorter period of time that we wow our clients and managers and still can get home to serve our families and spend more time with our kids?
- Can we anticipate needs before they happen?
- Can we offer to help the obviously struggling coworker?
- Can we send a hand-written note?
- Can we finish a project a week ahead of time (this one, admittedly, is a struggle for me)?
- Can we smile more, make more phone calls, listen more closely, offer more good ideas?
- Can we get to work earlier? Stay later? Or get home earlier and help out?
- How can we exceed what is expected of us?
When I was in high school, I knew what I could do. I did enough to do well on tests. Heck, sometimes teachers can be overly generous to students who are supposed to excel. I’m sure I benefited from a bit of bias here and there.
We will never train ourselves to exceed expectations by setting and achieving and manipulating goals.
Exceeding Expectations isn’t about numeric goals, it’s about creating value
Exceeding expectations isn’t about arbitrary measurements. It’s all about creating value for people. Period.
More than likely, it also means shedding some commitments. We can’t exceed expectations when we try to do too much for too many people.
How can I create so much value for people that even buying insurance becomes a pleasure? (Now that is a goal that would definitely exceed any and all expectations).
What can you do to exceed expectations today?
Today’s Action Item: I know this isn’t very sales-y, but given a major home repair situation, I wanted to make sure I got home in time to spend time with the family and then do some work on my bathroom project. The expectations are that I will only work on it during the weekend or when I have a seasoned DIYer to help. I measured and cut a bunch of stuff.
It might not sound like much, but in my world, that’s ridiculous value addition to this home.
What Are You Waiting For? – College Wesleyan Church, Rev. Steve Deneff – When we are going through the muck of life, do we just sit around and take it passively or do we over-aggressively fight… or do we wait actively? Do we allow the muck of life to change and refine us while we pray and hope for changes for the better?
Comfort Zone, Part 6 – In the Meantime, Andy Stanley (North Point Community Church) – Strangely dovetailing with the Deneff sermon referenced above. In this sermon, Stanley implores us to allow our ‘waiting room’ experiences – those times when we needed God’s comfort – to comfort others
Exceeding Average, Part 1 – Anything but Average, Joel Thomas (North Point Community Church) – You need to click that link and just watch the opening video prior to the sermon. This video itself will give some great ideas about how to exceed average.
This blog is a response to Dan Miller’s unintentional challenge from his podcast on August 15, 2014: If you read or listen to 30 minutes of quality content a day, you’ll double your income.
From September 1, 2014 through March 1, 2015, I will be doing the following:
- Listening or reading to 30 minutes of success, growth, business, spiritual, or other mindset-shifting, skill-sharpening content.
- Selecting one action item from that content (with some leeway to select an action from a previous day’s content).
- Doing that one action.
- Writing about the action or some other idea from the reading and listening of the day.