Stop Trying to be Remarkable

Everyone wants to be special. Everyone wants to be extraordinary.  Everyone wants to be remarkable.

When everyone is special, no one is - The Incredibles

There’s tremendous pressure in our culture to stand out, to be special, to do something that gets noticed. Whether it’s your product, your job performance or your sport.

As it turns out, the need to be special is not so special.  It’s ego-driven and it doesn’t serve humanity. Oh, I’m not talking about humanity in the way that only hippies care about, I’m talking about serving humanity through your normal day-to-day life.  Let me explain…

A great idea.  Consider an average day at work, you’re in a meeting.  Someone comes up with a great idea. Do you try to come up with a better idea?  Do you berate yourself for not coming up with that idea yourself? Do you search for something to contribute to the discussion to show your value in the meeting?  What if you simply agreed that it’s a good idea and worth exploring further?

What is your product for?  Suppose you are on a product team.  Do you look for ways to get people to buy your product?  Or do you look for ways that your product can better serve people?  If you are looking for ways to get people to buy your product, it can feel like trickery, a gimmick to get people to buy.  If you are finding ways that your product can better serve your customers, well that feels more like purpose.

EBPs.  I had a coworker that used to refer to layoffs and the ‘talent refresh’ that follows as EBPs:  Even Better People.  We’re all trying to be remarkable for fear of being replaced by EBPs.  But are there really EBPs? The fundamental belief that some people are ‘better’ than others is fundamentally flawed.  We all have a role to play. Our contributions are not always remarkable.

Companies condition and train people for years, only to decide one day that these are not the people they want.  They seek ‘better talent’, ‘people from Google’. How about you train people to be the right people to work here?

Brain Twist.  Today, simply notice the role everyone is playing at work.  The person who is blocking progress; do they create tension to avoid risk.  Someone who sits quietly in a meeting; what role are they playing?