What one thing this week will you do remarkably well?
The important things we do at work and at home should be done well. The unimportant and necessary should be done well enough. Some things merit a remarkable performance.
My next book The Encore Effect: How to Give a Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do will be released in September of this year. The manuscript is already finished.
As my publisher and I debated subtitles, one idea was How to Give a Remarkable Performance in Everything You Do. I was opposed for two reasons: not everything requires a remarkable performance and we aren’t capable of being remarkable at everything we do.
A key to remarkable performance is in knowing both what deserves that extra effort and what things you are passionate about that makes you want to be remarkable at doing them.
If the week ahead holds nothing that either doesn’t deserve a remarkable performance and/or you aren’t particularly motivated to at least attempt at doing remarkably…
…then you better replan your week.
This morning there was a handwritten note slid under my door at the St. Petersburg Bayfront Hilton. It was from the chief night auditor, John Darr. It read: “I see you’ve already enjoyed our Starbucks. Please have a coffee drink on the night audit staff.” There was a coupon for a free Starbucks beverage included. Obviously he’d reviewed charges from the day before and seen my room charge from the in-hotel Starbucks. I quickly took advantage of his hospitality and redeemed my coupon.
I share this little anecdote because it is more proof that you can add value to any job. I’m guessing most people wouldn’t think a night auditor was a key link in the chain of service delivery. This night auditor created the single most memorable part of my stay. Why? Because it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
What are you doing to add value to your customer’s experience?
Yesterday I was a proud father as I watched my son Hunter recognized for a story he’d written that was accepted for publication by the Children’s Family Story Project. The brainchild of Irv Green and his wife Andrea, CFSP encourages children grades 3, 4 and 5 from every school in Colorado to interview a family member and write a story about what they learn. The stories were judged by a panel of professional journalists and 30 stories were selected for inclusion in the book Relatively Speaking.
This was the first year of the volunteer project and as a parent I am most grateful to Irv and everyone involved. Many hours of love and care were invested by many people. The recognition was held at The Tattered Cover bookstore in downtown Denver. Those of you who know me know what a fan I am of The Tattered Cover. Joyce Meskis, the owner, has been a tremendous supporter of all things related to books for many years.
I got started in public speaking at the age of 10 when I entered my first contest, so I am a fan of programs that get kids involved in a skill or sport at an early age. I’m sure some of the kids who were recognized yesterday will go on to have distinguished writing careers.
Even if the kids don’t end up writing for a living, the program has encouraged them to learn about their families and the rich history of their parents, grandparents and beyond.
My wife Darla learned about the program and we both encouraged Hunter to enter (and nine year olds can take a lot of encouragement). He wrote about his Cherokee heritage in a story he learned from his grandmother on Darla’s side of the family. I can assure you that I had nothing to do with the writing or editing of his work. The kids had to write their stories without help from any outsider.
I hope this program continues (I’ve heard that next year it might be rolled out nationwide), and that it encourages and inspires others to create and conduct similar programs where they live. CFSP truly makes a difference to young writers.
As we approach Christmas day, I want to share this true story with you given to me by my dear friend Charlie “Tremendous” Jones called “My Most Blessed Christmas:”
“I was nine years old when the depression was still in full force. We came from Alabama and settled in Lancaster Country (PA) in a little row home which my father managed to rent. It was getting near Christmas and my dear dad had nothing to spend for Christmas for his five children ages 1 - 9. In desperation he went to the bank to try to persuade them that he was a safe risk for a small loan. He explained his predicament: no job, no collateral and five small children with Christmas approaching. As he should have known, the banker would have to decline his request, but he had an alternative offer for my dad to consider. He explained that if my dad could postpone celebrating Christmas a day or two, the children wouldn’t know it and everything would be reduced in the stores, and he would only need half the amount he was requesting. He said if this was agreeable he would approve the loan for a smaller amount. Of course my dad gratefully accepted the offer.
Christmas Eve after we were all in bed the downstairs front door slammed open. There was a lot of noise and my father rushed down the stairs to see what was happening. I followed a few minutes later and saw he sitting on the bottom step with his head in his hands. I couldn’t understand why he was weeping. When I reached the bottom step I could see no one in the hallway, but the hall was lined with boxes. There were boxes of good, clothing and candy. There was a riding fire engine and a four-foot folding white paneled dollhouse. We didn’t belong to a church and the friends we had were as poor as we were. Later, when my dad returned to the bank to repay the loan, the banker surprised my dad by telling him that there was no record of this loan.
I only understood that Christmas experience years later when Jesus became my Lord and Savior. How blessed some of us are to see God’s love working in and through His children. Those unknown servants were practicing 1st John 3:16, ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, how He laid down His life for us, so that we ought to lay down our lives for others.’”
In the U.S.:
Seventy percent of eight graders are not proficient in reading–and most will never catch up.
1.2 million students drop out of high school each year. That’s one every 26 seconds.
1/4 of high school freshman fail to graduate on time.
2/3 of jobs require college education.
(source: ED in ‘08)
One of the most important gifts you might give this holiday season is the gift of education.
Raising a Reader gets parents engaged in teaching their children to read.
Pro Literacy is the oldest non-government organization promoting literacy worldwide. Another excellent organization doing that work is Room to Read.
Closer to home, don’t just buy your child or grandchild a book; make time to read with them. If you give allowance, consider paying your child to read books of your choice and then giving you a book report.
Last night I gave my son Hunter an article on scramjet and ramjet aviation technology. I asked him to read it in exchange for $1 if he could answer some basic questions I asked him after he finished. It was fun for both of us and the best buck I spent yesterday.
One of the best ways to encourage learning is to model curiosity and a love for learning. Get reacquainted with your local public library or spend an hour browsing your neighborhood bookstore. Get up a little bit earlier or go to bed a little bit later and spend some time reading.
It is one of the best gifts you can give anyone, including yourself.
William Booth, the British Methodist preacher and founder of the Salvation Army was sent a telegram that asked him to explain what the Salvation Army was all about.
His responded with a one word telegram: others.
As you see the familiar Salvation Army bell-ringers this holiday season, I hope you’ll be reminded of the power of the clarity of purpose.
Yesterday I connected with my friend Darrel. He just built a very nice vacation home in western Colorado for his family. The all live in the Denver area so they aren’t able to use it all the time.
Darrel wanted to express appreciation for returning soldiers who were in combat, so he’s giving them a week in his home, all expenses paid, for them and their families. The first soldier will be enjoying Darrel’s hospitality soon. (Darrel is also working to get businesses in the area where his home is located to donate items to make the soldier’s stay truly memorable.)
Many of us support our troops as we can, but I’m proud of my friend Darrel whose support is exemplary. That’s true support.
Luc Paquin nominated his father Claude to receive a Fred Factor award. Here’s why:
“My father has a very big garden and he grows cucumbers…a lot of cucumbers. But he doesn’t like cucumbers. He grows them to give to the neighbor.”
I think we should take a lesson from Luc’s dad and grow more cucumbers for others.
Stephen Hopson is a remarkable individual. Born profoundly deaf, he overcame many adversities to become successful in many areas. He became a highly successful stockbroker for Merrill Lynch, a published author and an inspiring speaker.
I’ve gotten to know Stephen through his love of flying. Stephen became the first deaf person to earn his instrument rating, an amazing accomplishment (his rating does require that he fly with a co-pilot who can handle the radios for him).
Stephen tells a story that was a turning point in his life. He recounts having a larger-than-life teacher as a youngster with eyes that seemed to twinkle. She inspired him. One day she asked the class a question and Stephen raised his hand, hoping she wouldn’t call on him.
She did, and Stephen answered.
“That’s right, Stephen!” she enthusiastically exclaimed.
The simple but sincere approval of someone Stephen respected and admired so much made a powerful and lasting impact on Stephen. Years later he recounts the experience as life-changing.
Usually remarkable performance is ongoing, and no doubt Stephen’s teacher was an excellent educator who had won Stephen’s admiration over time. But she also proved that remarkable performance can happen in an instant. Her warm and encouraging approval had impact far beyond what she could have imagined.
To learn more about Stephen, go to www.sjhopson.com
I’ve known Joe Larson for over twenty years. Joe had a successful business in Wisconsin and is well-known as an entertaining and engaging speaker. He and his wife Jan relocated to the Scottsdale, Arizona area some years ago.
Joe and Jan sold their home and now reside at Classic Residence by Hyatt, a luxury retirement community. I’ve just learned that one of the first things Joe did when they moved in was to establish a foundation to help wait staff and others there get a college education. He now has 90 residents each donating $1,000 a year and has raised $300,000 for the foundation.
I got to call Joe last night as he was gathered with a group of friends and tell him he was selected to receive the Honorary CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame Award from the National Speakers Association. It was a treat for me to give the good news to someone who has been a friend and supporter for so many years, and who is loved by so many.
Joe Larson is a classy guy.