The world is filled with people: A great many are clever — or even very clever. Most of us believe we are incredibly busy getting on with the avalanche of life in all its forms — trying to do well, wishing to do better; finding “that place” — a sense of calm that comes with achievement, recognition, maybe even love, at times.
And then there are the few who stand out for the distinct point of difference that they make.
When something stands out that gets you to pause and say, “wow, that’s something!”
Right there is the point of distinction.
So what makes it so?
It’s the fine difference between Functional Goodness and Fundamental Excellence. Normally it is just that one thing that stands out.
Look at any great someone like Nelson Mandela, whom I had the great privilege of meeting. The way he would take your hand, smile and look deep into your heart — and make you know that he understood.
Or look at Adele, the singer whose humble beginnings are of no consequence. Her heartfelt poetry and music, the incredible strength of her voice, are all great. But it is in the full and authentic nature of how she gathers thousands to her through “realness,” that goes above and beyond — a flawless point of distinction. A living breathing example, she makes me pause, time and time again.
How does this relate to work?
In my view, we generally have a lot of very busy and good stuff going on — but I think that we still miss the opportunity to pause just a little bit longer.
When I look at the outputs of what we do — as agencies, as clients, as business professionals — more often than not I sadly do not see a point of distinction; that fundamental difference between very good and simply great.
When we fail, it’s typically not that we don’t have the credibility or stage on which to shine — we just do not get to the middle of it and get the spotlight to one single place where it should fall.
And we only will get there if we are able to pause, learn and truly hunt for fundamental excellence.
Just that one thought. The idea that gets someone to stop. That one thing that says this truly matters and can change a wave of busy to a crest of excellence.
“Wisdom means sometimes throwing our knowledge away.” The reason for this is the quest to find the difference between functional goodness and fundamental excellence.
We cannot get there without generosity and without honesty. Each of us in our own way should find the space in our minds and within ourselves. It takes the courage to seek, see, listen, learn and then do well by it.
What does this mean?
In medicine, there is a fine point between cure and poison — and that is hardly different in business. There is a fine point between a good idea and fundamental excellence: it’s in the sliver — that fine point that gives exceptional balance that delivers the difference and allows us to win great work when it matters most.
What is your measure?
Pause for Thought
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
— Nelson Mandela