Let’s start with a disclaimer about the word exceptional.
It’s connected to the two words human and being.
I’m not discussing in this insight whether you are an exceptional manager or leader.
No, I mean here how you live your life, interact with others, and make a difference daily.
For yourself and others.
Let’s agree that we don’t think now that we’re all work in progress and nobody is exceptional.
I know that’s the case, but that shouldn’t stop us from having the ambition to be exceptional and be and do so daily.
I think I am an exceptional human being.
If you know me well and happen to disagree, please reply to this message and let me know why you disagree.
I love good, constructive, and actionable feedback.
And, of course, I also know I’m not perfect, I have my flaws and some blind spots here and there.
So am I exceptional in the continuous, every day, with every single person kind of way?
No, I’m not.
And I still am.
So let’s explore a little why I am exceptional.
Not to make this insight an anthology about my qualities but to provide you with some ideas for self-reflection and an opportunity to ask others about your exceptionalism.
First, I have a high degree of self-mastery. I know myself well, my qualities, and my limitations, and I’m open to feedback from those who see what I don’t see and have the best intentions to help me grow.
Second, I’m great at scanning. I was an anthropologist in my previous life. My curious nature, love for people, culture, nature, and travel have created high situational awareness. And although I’m not always the best listener, I am often enough, and when I do, I listen generatively.
(Scanning note. Five minutes after I typed this on the train from Vienna to Prague, I noticed 10 cents on the floor. I’ve never had the attitude to think I was that rich to ignore a coin on the floor. So I picked it up.)
Third, closely related to the previous point, I know how to communicate well. Good communication starts with listening. Closely followed by the ability to think and act more in questions than statements.
Ask first, then tell.
Also, and fourth, specific conversations (team, feedback, performance, check-in, confrontation, conflict, delegation, development) require a different approach and structure. This point has to do with human interaction.
Most people never think through these different elements. Most people never prepare and practice. Most people never seek to understand first. Most people never follow up (Therefore, most people manage but don’t lead).
If you’re still with me at this point, we’re on the right track.
Fifth, there are no results without action. I always found the discussion between doers and thinkers absurd. You can only be good at one with the other. Make time to think, but then it’s time to execute. And don’t execute without thinking first. Make choices, focus insanely, and tackle your most demanding challenges first. Execution is a mind game first.
Sixth and final note. Ask yourself whether people feel safe around you. And ask yourself whether you feel safe to be who you are around others. If there’s no safety in your vicinity (for you, or by you) and you or others can’t be who they are, there’s no chance to be an exceptional human being.
1. Master yourself.
2. Scan & be an anthropologist.
3. First ask, then tell.
4. Be a star in conversations.
5. Think & Do. In that order.
6. Do people feel safe? Do you?
Your turn: How many out of six?
Do more of what makes you happy!
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