Ode to excellence

A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation from one guy in the office.

He showed up in a crumpled outfit, with a piece of paper folded in 4 that he proceeded to unfold and that contained his notes. He spoke in a hush tone, none the TED talker. He repeated himself a lot. He had no justification for some of his assumptions. In one occasion, he could not even remember why he had recommended a particular course of action so he simply said so and skipped to the next.

He basically made every single mistake that someone can do when presenting a report. And then some more. If I was instructing a junior staff on how to present something, he would be the blueprint for what NOT to do.

And yet…

In the 20 minutes he presented, he delivered a handful of golden nuggets. Two or three irrefutable, genuinely novel and intellectually sound observations and deductions. He wowed the audience by showing excellence sporadically, in an otherwise average package.

That was enough. All of his recommendations were accepted. In 2 hour of prep and 20 min speech, he accomplished what literally took me 9 months to do.

I doubt that guy was ever the most tidy and organized professional. I think he cultivated his particular talent for strong and creative intellectual reasoning and neglected the “balance”. Maybe he conformed a bit at first, but ultimately, it is excellence that got him to leap high, reasonable balance would just have made him a boring, incrementally-progressing individual. That incidentally probably has a lot less fun.

What is a good manager : one that tries to teach you what will make you successful (based on his own experience, so a sample of 1) or one that helps you discover, cultivate, improve your own and unique potential for excellence ?

Which of us have spent years trying to conform to whatever blueprint for success our managers had in mind ? I certainly did… Definitely time to rethink.


PS : For more on excellence, read Marcus Buckingham, he will get you motivated 🙂

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