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This article is about exemplifying yourself in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful effectiveness tool.
Jim Collins said, “Good is the enemy of great”, and he could not be more on point. We are sometimes too willing to settle for good or good enough, without coming to the realization that the distance between going from good and great is in fact quite manageable, while the impact between them is astronomical. Effective and successful people never accept mediocrity.
I equate ‘good’ as mediocre/ordinary and great as extraordinary. Dictionary.com defines ordinary as “of no special quality or interest; commonplace and unexceptional” – while extraordinary is defined as “exceptional in character, noteworthy, remarkable”.
With this in mind I began to ponder what the steps that a person might take in order to transform themselves from good to great. I believe that in order make this critical transition you have to be willing to change. Change the way you look at things, and change the way you choose to respond to what you see.
Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Implicit on that statement, is that in order to effectuate that process, you have exceptional ‘clarity’. I define clarity as seeing the world the way it is, rather than the way you want it to be and to be free of ambiguity. This requires you to heed the advice of Marcel Proust when he said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. (Read his monumental novel entitled “À la recherche du temps perdu” published between 1913 – 1927). Those new eyes, bounded by clarity and a willingness to change are the fundamentals underpinnings for going from good to great. The rest of this essay focuses is an important event that happened to me back in 1971 when I was graduating from USC with my MBA.
Exemplifying yourself, the first step of personal change
All 50+ graduating students from the program had resumes all printed and prepared. I sent many out, but received only a single response for a position that did not even fit my skills. I was disappointed and demoralized and set about trying to understand ‘why’ this had happened.
I got copies of all the resumes of my fellow MBA’s and they all looked exactly the same. All were on quite ordinary paper; all were in Times New Roman font and were unremarkable. They were all ‘good’ but not ‘great’. Eventually I was referred to the Kelly paper company in Santa Monica and there I found exceptional fine papers. With the little money I had, I purchased 8 pieces of exceptional paper. The salesperson said that he would have the paper cut into 8 1/2″ by 11” sheets. I asked for the paper to be cut to 8 1/2″ x 11 1/8” and after telling me this was not standard, I did in fact receive the size I asked for. Armed with my ‘off-sized’ I went to a small print shop called Sir Speedy Printing near the USC campus and asked if there were any other fonts (other than Times New Roman which came from every typewriter)?
I was informed that there were literally hundreds of fonts and after perusing them I chose Helvetica. The printer told me that they would have it typeset and I was to come back in three days. On my return the printed showed me a ‘plate’ of the resume and my gorgeous new font.
He printed the resume and even did it offset. The result was quite astonishing, I now had an almost ‘great’ resume on superb paper He told me that the paper was a non-standard size and they would cut it down, and I stopped him in his tracks and told him I did NOT want it cut at all.
I then asked if he knew the PMS code for the USC Cardinal color and he easily found it. I asked to print that USC Cardinal color on the very tip of my resume (on the top 1/8th of an inch) and they did just that.
Armed now with my ‘remarkable and great’ resume I mailed our four copies to selected companies and within a few days I was contacted by a recruiter from IBM in White Plains N.Y. He told me that the H.R. department had handed him 20-30 resumes and that when he held them and ‘tapped’ them on his desk to straighten out the pile, that one of them STUCK out an 1/8th of an inch, with a bold color on the top and he pulled it out and it was of course mine.
I received three other such calls and was interviewed by all of them, and settled on going to work for accounting giant Arthur Andersen and Co.
By changing the way I looked at things, the things I looked at changed, and from that day forward I have always endeavoured to go for the ‘great’. With profound thanks to Jim Collins, Wayne Dyer and the myriad of other authors who have helped to shape my attitudes and opinions, I respectfully offer these ideas in the hope that you might find them useful in your quest to go from good to great.
In 1971 I chose to exemplify myself by sticking out and 1/8th of an inch and the rest as they say is history.
It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Can you apply the method mentioned above on yourself? What are your results and learning points? Is there, in your opinion, an other way of personal reflection and growth? If so, would you like to share that with the world? Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap… and others don’t. Random House.
- Dyer, W. (1980). The Sky’s the Limit. Simon & Schuster
- Ferrazzi, K., & Raz, T. (2011). Never eat alone. GagasMedia.
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Gerson, E. (2016). Exemplifying yourself by sticking out an 1/8th of an inch. Retrieved [insert date] from ToolsHero: https://www.toolshero.com/effectiveness/exemplifying-yourself-by-sticking-out-an-18th-of-an-inch/
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