Doing Common Things in an Uncommon Way

“When you do the common things in an uncommon way, you’ll command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

Life inevitably requires us to do common things – there’s no way around it.

Think about the list of things you have on your plate for today at work. Many of the tasks you have in front of you likely feel common. For some of you, that includes preparing a report, working in a spreadsheet, sending emails, or answering your phone. For others, it looks very different. You’re digging a hole, building a wall, or manufacturing a part.

The point is this. You have things you need to do today that will feel common. They feel forgettable and undeserving of our best energy. They are the “check this off my list” tasks that we want to get done and get over. Compared to the uncommon, more exciting things we’ll do today, they feel unimportant.

It’s easy to put our energy into the uncommon things – the things that feel big, important, and significant. The things that feel like they make an impact and a difference. But what about the common things – the ones where the impact is so subtle that it feels insignificant? Can you find ways to do those everyday things in an uncommon way?

The answer is yes, and here’s why this matters.

One of the key differences between the brands that survive and the ones that thrive is their ability to do ordinary things in an uncommon way. The most successful organizations in whatever they do are the ones with people who approach common tasks in uncommon ways. That last line is important. As much as an organization wants to show up in uncommon ways, it is the people that make it happen. It’s how each individual approaches their everyday tasks that makes all the difference.

Can a leader lead their team to approach the common in uncommon ways? Absolutely! You might think uncommon leadership is something they just need to talk about, and their teams will gravitate toward the concept. As much as preaching an uncommon approach is essential, what really matters is the example leaders show their employees. If leaders can take their most common leadership responsibilities and execute them in uncommon ways, they set the tone for everyone they work alongside.

Being uncommon is an exercise in showing up.

Think about how you deliver products and services to your clients. Looking at whatever you do, how can you add more value than anyone else in your space? Even better, how can you deliver uncommon experiences to your customers that will set you apart? How can you take an interaction that is usually forgettable and make it memorable? Answer this, and then execute on it, and you will stand out.

Look at your list of tasks for today, and pick one or two common things that you are going to do in an uncommon way. At the same time, look at the products and services you offer, and consider how you can deliver those in an uncommon way as well – in a way that separates you from your competition. Do this, and as George Washington Carver said, you will capture the attention of the world.

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