“Four short words sum up what lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and…a little bit more.” (A. Lou Vickery)
There is a phrase in both business and the sporting world that always grates my nerves. Very often you will hear athletes say “I gave 110% of myself out there today.” It grates me because it doesn’t really make any sense. You cannot give MORE of yourself than ALL of yourself. A person can’t really give 110% of themselves on the field of play. At first blush, today’s quote might seem to be a part of that, but it isn’t. Today’s quote is about expectations. And in the world of expectations, I can always give a little bit more.
What is expected of me comes in a variety of forms. At work I have a job description, project scope, and my yearly objectives. All of these come together to create a framework of what my management expects me to do. Meet them all, and I will be an adequate employee – near the center of the curve. Landing there will put my compensation and recognition similarly in the middle.
At home the expectations put on me have to do with how things need to happen for our family to be successful. We have our defined division of chores, and also there are defined standards of how we treat one another as a family. If I am nice to others, and supportive of their lives, and if I do my chores correctly, then I am meeting the expectations. In that case I am a mediocre father and husband who does what is expected.
To be successful, either at work or at home, I must follow the advice of this quote and do …a little bit more.
The bit more that I do can come in many ways. At work I can exceed the standards of my objectives or job description. I can do my work with higher quality and lower the tolerance for errors. I also can volunteer to take on additional work that is not in my job description. I can offer to help another department, or take on short term assignments that benefit the greater good. These are examples, in my job, of doing a little bit more. The more often that I take on these extras, the more successful I will be and the greater my recognition.
At home it is the same. I can simply do what is expected, and that will get me by. But, if I want to be a truly good father and husband, I have to give more. I have to find things that I can do to make our lives a little better, both in deed and in word.
At work I have the privilege of managing a group of people. I lead and coach them in their day-to-day work, and in some cases I am involved in their yearly appraisals. Part of our appraisal process is assessing in the larger group who had risen up to the top. Where I work there are hundreds, even thousands of very talented individuals. Everyone works very hard at their jobs, and we have many successes to tout when these appraisals come along. What ends up setting people apart isn’t that they did their job and met the performance standards, it is that they exceeded those standards, and they took on more work than was originally placed on their plate. I am judged by the same standard, and my yearly success is also related to how well, and how often I do a little bit more.
It is easy for me to see the effects of doing a little bit more at home. When I am feeling the spark to go beyond the basics, it always pays off in smiles and appreciation. Those weeks when the laundry is done early, or when I have helped my wife with her chores because she was tied up at work, our family runs better. We don’t hand out performance appraisals at home, but we know and acknowledge the extra efforts.
Many times we think of successful people as being those who have done enormous things, they have gone far above and beyond the call of duty. And, to some extent, that is true. But the opportunities don’t always exist to go far above. Most times the expectations put on a person are sufficiently large that taking on or completing big, extra assignments is impractical. This quote, though, suggests that it doesn’t have to be that I wait for something big. I can do a little bit more on everything I do. That is the novelty of this quotes formula for success.
Today, as I reflect, I am thinking about how I can add just a little bit more to everything that I do, both at home and at work. By seeking those opportunities, and executing them, I will increase my own success and that of the people around me.