Being Exceptional

“I don’t do extraordinary things, I do ordinary things with great love.”

– Mother Teresa

“They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel. “

– Carl Buehner

In my coaching, I work with individuals, groups and organizations on a broad array of issues – leadership, communication, time management, improving sales performance, strategic planning and a host of others.  All of these are useful and help move the client forward.

Today’s topic is broader.  But mastering it will enhance any of the topics previously mentioned.

This is the purpose of coaching: to help people become more exceptional.  It is to meet the clients where they are, and grow from that point – as opposed to trying to get everyone to be at the same place.

I thought about this topic when I reconnected by phone with an acquaintance in the Boston area this past year.  This man is someone whose time is always in high demand, and who is very much a recognized leader in his field of commercial real estate.  I hadn’t spoken with him in  over nine years, but I had a couple of questions that I knew he would have a great deal of wisdom about.  This isn’t someone I ever knew all that well, but had met several times.  I called him, and we traded calls a few times before connecting that afternoon.  Not only did he remember me, but he was very generous with his thoughts and time, and diligent about getting back to me that day.

I was reminded why I’d always been so impressed by this man.    It got me thinking:  what is it that makes this gentleman so exceptional?  This is what I came up with.


1.      The ability to connect

2.      The ability to be fully present

3.      The ability to make someone feel like the most important person in the room, if not the world, at that moment.

4.      Surprising people – doing a little bit more (or sometimes a lot more) than others would do.

5.      Communicating authentically.

Here is a quick “cheat sheet” on each of these points.  Feel free to contact me if you want more elaboration.

1.      The ability to connect
Being able to establish rapport, “get someone,” connect the dots, add value, empathy.

2.      The ability to be fully present
The biggest challenge with this is that it’s really difficult to do consistently.  By consistently, I mean the entire time that you are with someone, and also with every person you meet.  It’s the ability to make and maintain eye contact, and not get distracted.  It’s also the ability to link to the past and the future, but also to Be Here Now.  It’s maintaining focus and intensity.

3.      The ability to make someone feel like the most important person in the room, if not the world, at that moment.
What does it feel like when someone really “gets” you?  It’s the joy of being known.  How do you let someone know that they are important?  By returning phone calls and/or emails promptly.  Listening fully.  Following up on requests.  Inviting opinion.  Asking questions.  Remembering previous interactions.  Being helpful.  Looking for offers and exchanges.

4.      Surprising people – doing a little bit more (or sometimes a lot more) than others would do.
This one is easy to execute once you put your mind to it.  It can be sending a card, a phone call, a gift, an introduction, sending a helpful article or quote.  It’s showing up.  The challenge with this one is making it important enough to make the time for it.  It’s an “extra.”  It’s precisely because it’s not required, because there is no terrible consequence to not doing it, that surprising people with something extra helps distinguish you as exceptional.

5.      Communicating authentically.
This is perhaps hardest of all, and why it’s so rare – and why it will make you stand out.  We are all tempted, and often do, tell people what they want to hear.  While that may promote a short term result (pleasure, a sale, etc.) it does not promote true relationship or communication.  All of us move forward better when we can know what’s true.  And we can trust people who can help us know what’s true.  To be authentic is one of the most courageous acts there is.  While people are not always immediately grateful, on a more cellular level, they almost always are grateful in the long run.

Big Five Exercises:

  1. What are two things you are willing to do this week, to take yourself up at least one level toward being more exceptional?
  2. What would it take for you to be the exceptional person you want to be?
  3. If you were to pick just one of the Big Five on which to focus, which would it be?
  4. What would be hardest about this?
  5. What kind of result do you think it would bring into your life?

Is being exceptional worth the effort?  You decide.  How do you want to be known and remembered?   If you’d like coaching around this concept, let’s do it!

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