Most people want to be better and make things better, even if that’s not the way they would put it. My parents are a great example of this. If you were to meet my parents you would see that they don’t have an off button. When they see jobs that need doing or things that need fixing, they just roll up their sleeves and get them done. They aren’t necessarily thinking, “Oh, doing this will make life better”. But they are seeing the things around them that need to get done. And by doing them, they are making life better.
What Holds Us Back From Being Better
For my parents, this is a way of life – a lifelong habit. For most of us, we haven’t yet developed this habit. Or, more often, we’re not even sure how to begin to “be better”. Or if we do know how to begin, and we’ve started on those habits, we soon fall off the wagon, letting bad habits creep in. And it’s these things, and others, that hold us back from being better, or making things better, within ourselves and in the world at large.
What Holds Us Back From Being Exceptional
As you can see from our ‘What Holds Us Back From Being Exceptional Model’, there are four quadrants that relate to “being better”. We’re just finishing up our own home renovations, so let’s look at this with the example of decorating or renovating your home.
Low Skill, High Awareness
In the first instance, you might find that you have low skills but high awareness. In other words, you might look around your home and know that there is so much that you could do to make your home better, more beautiful and more functional, but you just don’t have the skills to get there.
When you’re in this space you’ll find yourself struggling with frustration and feeling a great deal of friction in your life. And that’s because you’re aware of what needs to be done, but you’re unsure of how to do it.
High Skill, Low Awareness
When you have the skills, but you aren’t aware of the problems that need fixing, you’ll find yourself constantly distracted. You won’t be able to focus on the things that would solve your problems within your home, or create a better, more beautiful living space, because you won’t really be able to see them as “fixable” problems (despite having the skills to do just that). Instead, you’ll just live in a poorly insulated house that’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
Low Skill, Low Awareness
When you’re in the space of having both low skills and low awareness you’ll remain stuck in your status quo. When it comes to your home, you’ll never renovate or redecorate your space. You’ll never make your home easier to live in or better suited to your lifestyle. And, when it comes to you personally, you’ll never take steps to grow and become better in any aspect of your life. That’s simply because you just don’t recognise a path to a better future.
When you’re in this space, you’ll find yourself stuck. Unable to move forward, learn more, grow your business or yourself or change at all.
High Skill, High Awareness
This is the quadrant that you want to live in in order to become better and even, eventually, to achieve exceptionality. When you have high skills and high awareness you’re in a constant state of change because you’re constantly striving for the next thing. You’re never happy to rest on your laurels or to simply exist as you are. You look for more and you work for more every single day.
In our home example, this would be someone who is constantly fixing and maintaining the home. Who buys new cushions and freshly paints the walls. Who installs solar panels and batteries because it’s innovative and forward looking. This is the way we need to be in our lives and in our practices as well. Constantly looking forward, adapting, changing and growing into the future.
However, constant change can hold us back is if this becomes the default. Some like change for changes sake. If you can be consciously aware that you like change but know when to pause and be patient, can be very empowering. Doing nothing can actually be doing something.
This is the way that we can build exceptionality.
The Mindset of Better
When I worked with a large consulting firm, I worked with thousands of people to build up their personal efficiency. And just like the model above demonstrates, the thing that held them back was their unique combination of awareness of skill.
Some of the people that I worked with had the mindset of being better (in this case focused around being better at organisation). But they simply didn’t have the skills they needed to get there. Others struggled with putting that mindset, or habit, into place. In fact, about 80% of the people that I worked with created change that would stick long term vs about 20% who struggled. In fact, sadly, the Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 60% of all corporate Six Sigma initiatives failed to meet their objectives, and that was down to mindset.
As J.K. Rowling famously said, “We do not need magic to transform the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better”.
Having the mindset of better – or the power to imagine better – is the first step to getting us over the hurdles to being better.
The Four Things That Hold Us Back From Being Better
Lack of Knowledge
The first thing that holds us back from being better is a lack of knowledge. Perhaps you’ve never learned or no one has shown you the things that you need to know. To get past this hurdle you can take on training, do online or in-person courses or find a coach or mentor who’s good at what you need to know.
No goals or vision
When you don’t have any goals or a vision for yourself or for your practice, then you don’t have any purpose or meaning in what you do. Goals are things that we want but have difficulty achieving. And research shows that when we have those goals, we have a reason to struggle and to implement behaviour change. That behaviour change underlies achievement and helps you to get over the hurdle and strive for “being better”.
Lack of practicality
When you don’t have the practical skills then you simply don’t know how to make the transition from where you are to where you need to be in order to “be better”. Just as with gaining knowledge, you need to take steps to get the practical skills that you need in order to get to the next level. This might be setting up the systems of processes within your practice, learning how to better manage your finances or even upskilling within your industry.
Lack of awareness
Just like we’ve demonstrated in our model above, having a lack of awareness can be a huge hurdle. While ignorance can be bliss, it’s not the way to become better. In order to achieve exceptionality, you need to become aware of how you can become better.
Start by putting yourself in the mind of your clients and your audience. Think about what they’re looking for from you and your practice. How can you elevate it to provide them with exceptional services and assure exceptional outcomes? Once you’ve figured that out, then set your goals, take on the training or coursework to get the knowledge and skills you need and then move towards those goals.
So, let’s get started!
What do you think about exceptionality? I’d love to hear your thoughts…