Scroll through your social media pages and you’ll see news stories, sports updates, and cute puppy pictures. You’ll probably also notice that some people seem to be complaining about life while others appear to be crushing it. Despite living in an age of information readily available to all, it’s clear that most people don’t take advantage. With all the odds stacked in our favor, why is it that so few people are crushing it?
To answer this question, we need to examine the standouts. When observing successful people across various industries, I began to notice a pattern. There seem to be 3 factors that come up over and over again. Luckily for us, each element is fairly easy to replicate if you set your mind to it.
People in general are surprisingly bad at their jobs. Recently, I was looking to get pre-approved to buy a house. Of the 5 mortgage brokers that I contacted, only 3 of them got back to me. Of the 3 that got back to me, only 1 of them was willing to answer my questions in detail and provide additional resources. Who would you pick?
The best broker went above and beyond what he was asked to do, that immediately got my attention. It probably only took him an extra 5 minutes to reply to my email with links and detailed responses. Yet, those 5 extra minutes, a minimal investment, made him look far more appealing than any other broker.
In your profession and in your personal life, do you do the bare minimum? Chances are that if you do, you’re not standing out. If you want to be the best at something, you need to add value. My father has a car detailing business. His customers always seem to come back and give him referrals. There could be a variety of reasons for this, but one thing that stood out to me in all my years of working for him was that he did the little things. Every car got the typical wash and wax. On top of that each car would have an air freshener and hand-washed windows with no streaks. These things may sound minor, but if you’re used to the status quo, this stands out.
Regardless of your job title, you can always find ways to stand out. If you’re a real estate agent, buy your clients a closing gift with a hand-written thank you note. If you’re a doctor, call your patients to follow up after they leave the hospital. If you’re a teacher, send an email to parents when their children do something good in class. You don’t have to spend dozens of hours after work adding value or creating unnecessary work for yourself. All of the aforementioned actions take as little as 5 minutes, but can totally change how people perceive you.
What can you do in your life to stand out?
Recently, I overheard someone at a coffee shop talking to a coworker. She said things like “I’m not sure what this means. What do I do?” and “I’m going to check with my supervisor before I answer this email.” This person might’ve had valid reasoning, but to me, she appeared entirely incompetent. The point of hiring someone is to alleviate a pain point, not create more. If an employer has to give you permission to send an email, why wouldn’t they just fire you, write the email themselves, and save the headache along with your salary?
There’s a saying among entrepreneurs that people get paid in proportion to the size of the problems they solve. To be a problem solver, you need to be willing to take initiative. First, identify a pain point. Then, figure out how to resolve the situation. Notice that you don’t need to ask for permission? Just do it.
A friend of mine started out as an administrative assistant. He was always good with technology, so he found ways to make filing easier by creating e-files rather than physical documents. He took all physical documents and put them online. The company he worked for was around for decades, yet he was the first person in his position to make improvements to the filing system. Instead of checking with his boss to see if it was ok to use technology, he just did it. Then when his boss saw the amazing changes and simplicity of e-filing, he gave my friend a promotion. Solve problems and you will be rewarded.
What’s one problem you can solve that would provide value to others?
Perhaps the most important thing you can do if you want to stand out in any environment is invest in yourself. On the surface, it might not seem like this has anything to do with standing out–believe me, it does. For one thing, the employee that constantly seeks knowledge shows that they care about what they’re doing. In addition, self-improvement at a given thing boosts the value of you and everyone around you.
In a BiggerPockets Money podcast I listened to, they interviewed David Greene. The man, the myth, the legend. What stood out to me about his success story was that when he was in college, he was a waiter. He asked his boss how to become a better waiter, took her advice and over time became a standout getting huge tips. On top of that, he was training other employees. David added value to his customers by providing better service, he made his boss more money by performing better, he helped other staff members keep their jobs by showing them what to do. All of this was possible because he first invested in his own personal growth.
One way to invest in yourself is to read and study more. If you learn from people who have books, you are learning from the best people in that field. Chances are that they’re transferring years of wisdom to you within a few hours. Another great way to expand your knowledge is to find a mentor. For similar reasons, these people can add value to your life that you can then use to benefit the lives of others.
An investment in yourself is always the right choice.
If you apply these 3 traits of stand out professionals, you will be at the top in no time. Start working towards success today.