You Better Be Good

I opened my eyes 5 minutes before the alarm clock sounded.  5:25 a.m.  Atlanta.  Still half-asleep.  I was into the third day of a 3 city, 3 keynote speeches on 3 different topics stretch.  Time to help a national sales organization kick of their annual Sales Summit.  We finished our sound check around 7:30.  Attendees were starting to fill the room to an upbeat playlist.  Coffee.  Breakfast.  Name tags.  Networking.  You know the drill.

My client, the CMO of the organization walked over, smiled nervously and asked if I was ready.  I smiled and answered in the affirmative.  Then she added:

“Ryan, you better be good.”

I understood.  Incur the expense of bringing your entire national sales organization into downtown Atlanta for 3 days and you want to get the party started properly.  That was my job.  90 minutes to offer some inspiration that leads to action and outcomes.  Time to make a difference.

I have heard it before.  John Jorgenson, Director of Illinois SHRM State Council, was evaluating keynote speakers at the National Conference in San Diego a year ago. A few minutes before my session started he approached me for a quick introduction. We shook hands. John added:

“Ryan, don’t suck.”

Got it.  A colleague suggested he attend my session.  He isn’t going to get that hour of his life back.  That hour needs to matter.  John was dead on right.

{sidebar: I didn’t suck.  John hired me.  We have been friends ever since we met in San Diego.}

 I know I need to deliver an exceptional experience every time out.  That is my job.  The expectations are clear.  The pressure to perform comes with the territory.

I don’t think that makes my job unique. Today, everyone is faced with elevated expectations and increasing pressure to deliver extraordinary performance and results.

In the new economy and world of work it really is this simple:

You better be good.  You better bring your A game.  You better not suck.

Seth Godin will tell you that if you’re an average worker, you’re going straight to the bottom.

Next-generation leaders are making people strategy a priority and part of a progressive strategy is an ongoing effort to ensure you have the right people in the right jobs.  Adjustments and upgrades are mandatory.

This means you have to compete and succeed daily in delivering more value than the alternative choice (the next guy or the outsourced and likely cheaper option to do whatever it is you do).  Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.  We earn it through exceptional performance.

That might be hard for some people to accept.  That might not be fair.  That might be different than what we expected.  That might make you feel angry, anxious, uncertain and overwhelmed.

That doesn’t matter.  This is our new reality.

Tom Friedman will tell you that average is officially over.

This is the exact moment in time that demands we become the very best of who we are capable of becoming.

The opportunity exists for the GameChanger who steps up, challenges the status quo, makes bold choices, inserts themselves into the chaos and creates something new.

That might seem inconvenient.  Or really hard.

It’s better than the alternative.

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