Getting ahead in today’s world involves a lot of variables: talent, hard work, timing, knowing the right people and luck. All overachievers work hard on being good at what they do. They pride themselves on being the “go to” person, always having the right answer, believe working long hours is the key, often working even when they should be spending time with their family. Paying your dues and learning the business is important, but what’s really important is being MEMORABLE. We are all surrounded by equally talented people that are “good” at what they do. There are a lot of really smart people out there. But if you want to separate yourself from the pack, you have to be someone that other people want to be around and want to work with. Face it, we live in a team environment and engaging and working well with others is how companies grow and execute.
If you look around your office, the Top Performers are usually not the smartest folks – they usually have super smart people around them. They’re Top Performers because they’re MEMORABLE. They’re memorable because they have learned to distinguish themselves from others by:
1. Being genuine.
They don’t try to be someone they’re not. They don’t pretend to be the rock star who is a world traveler with the exciting weekend excursions and fancy sports car. They’re comfortable in their own skin and don’t need the affirmation of others to feel good about themselves. People respect genuineness, it’s a rare trait in today’s world of ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ I’ve learned you can drive a 12 passenger commercial van as your family vehicle and still rock it. It’s how your carry yourself and the ability to embrace your situation that defines how others perceive you. My family is memorable because we are easily recognized by our big NV3500 van and crew of 5 kids under 8. Embrace your individuality and be comfortable in your own skin; you don’t have to hide your imperfections.
I learned as a kid embracing my shortcomings allowed people to feel like they really knew me and made me memorable. For most, I was the only burn survivor they knew and it was a deformity few had seen firsthand. They knew I was not impacted by things I had no control over (my burn scars, having 1 ear, being short) and felt at ease being around me. I tell people jokingly that I shop in the kids departments because the little boys’ suits are so much cheaper. I spent my entire college years working on beefing up, building the big chest and biceps (the gun show as they say). After I got married, I realized no one cared. Now I tell people my goal is to be built like a 12 year old – being skinny is extremely helpful competing in my triathlons. People love those who are self-deprecating. It allows them to relate and bond knowing you are just fine with all your imperfections. If you think about it, the funniest comedians are never runway models. Trust me, people are never as perfect as they seem – some are just better at hiding it than others.
2. Being passionate.
They’re not afraid for people to know who they are and what they stand for. People in business often feel the need to put on fronts, fearful of people knowing their personal life. I openly tell people that I’m married with 5 kids and a man of God. I am proud of that and want people to know what’s important in my life, my moral compass. As someone in sales, I often see other sales executives trying to flirt their way into a contract. It makes me laugh. I couldn’t imagine building a career reputation as someone who relies on good looks and promiscuous behavior to be successful. The way I approach sales is would I be comfortable if someone filmed my sales approach and showed it at a conference for others to watch. Would my wife or kids approve?
Don’t be scared to share with people your passions. People respect those motivated by things in life other than money, those driven by a higher purpose whether it’s playing the piano, coaching your kids in little league or learning a foreign language. Not everyone pursues their passions and most respect those who do. By sharing your passions, you may be able to help others get started pursuing their passion and help keep them accountable. A big passion of mine is fitness and I absolutely love helping others realize how easy it is to get into shape. People don’t forgot those that help them achieve their life goals. I’ve always been amazed what the human mind and body can do and wish everyone could experience it firsthand – it’s invigorating.
3. Being generous.
They have learned a kind heart is a quick path to success. Helping others and asking nothing in return is a rare trait these days and will truly make you memorable. Giving of your time or talent is the greatest gift you can give and usually offers satisfaction way beyond what you’ve given. Personally, I receive 2x-3x in blessings for what I have given of myself although that is never my intent.
Little things have the biggest impact. Remembering a peer’s birthday with a cupcake or handwritten card goes a long way towards showing you care. Giving of your time is even better, something that is always in big demand but short in supply. I am one that tries to always make time to grab a cup of coffee with someone when asked. Granted, I’m not in a position like some of my clients who get 20 requests a day. I agree to meet with those who are genuinely looking for insight into what I do or looking for advice. I have been the recipient of great guidance over the years and try to help those looking for secrets to jumpstart their life. You never know when that one person makes it big and maybe because you took 20 minutes out of your day. Most people want nothing more than for someone to talk to, feel heard and genuinely appreciated for their contributions. We all want to feel special and we all have the ability to make others feel that way. Your generosity and ability to do small things to enhance the lives of others will make you memorable.
4. Putting themselves out there.
They have learned the people we admire and remember in life, for better or worse, are the ones that truly go for it – put themselves out there to achieve something truly remarkable (Amelia Earhart, Earnest Shackleton, Jackie Robinson, etc…). We all love and admire risk takers and secretly wish we took more risks in our life. In their mind, failure only happens when they quit and give up on their dreams. The story of Earnest Shackleton is my all-time favorite. At first read of the Shackleton exploration, you’d deem it a failure, falling short of their mission to be the first to cross Antarctica from sea to sea. However, when you learn how he motivated and inspired his crew daily for the 2 years they were stranded in Antarctica and the fact no one died, you quickly realize why he is often regarded as the greatest adventurer in the history of the world and a role model of leadership.
For some reason, most people fear failure. They fear trying something new or really hard for fear they won’t be successful. In addition, most never share their goals in life for fear they’ll be judged if they don’t achieve them. I believe the opposite. Share your goals, let everyone know what keeps you up at night and gets your blood pumping. What you’ll find is that friends and even complete strangers will help you achieve your goal if they see you are truly ‘going for it.’ Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. I once met a complete stranger in Starbucks who ended up writing a check for $10,000 to help me compete in the Ironman World Championships – a life goal that few ever experience.
If you focus on being MEMORABLE, you will become a Top Performer. But you have to be memorable for the right reasons. Having a great product is important in business, but people buy from people. They do business with people they like and want to be around. It’s rare that a product sells itself. Being good at what you do helps, but being memorable is essential to becoming a Top Performer.
Shay is an All American and World ranked triathlete, burn survivor with scars over 65% of his body and is a sought out national motivational speaker. Despite being told he’d never compete in sports again at the age of 8, Shay is living testament to “Anything is Possible”: 4x Ironman, 4x member of Team USA, ranked top 1% of Ironmen worldwide and has competed in 9 triathlon world championships, including the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. His mantra has always been to not merely be a “finisher” but to be a “competitor.” If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to check out my other posts.