Imagine if you could quantify all the specific things that would make you a superior practitioner in your industry. Here’s how you can:

This morning, daw up two lists. In the first list, include all of the qualities you believe are necessary for a highly competent, highly professional member of your industry. Don’t progress on to the second list before you have created this one. Give it the following headline:

‘You can’t be a professional in this industry without...’ 

Once you have populated your first list, assume that your top competitors all have every quality on your list. This implies that if you possess the same ones, you are now merely qualified to operate in this space and in their company. But you are also indistinguishable from the competition. You’ve reached the minimum requirements to compete and you are ‘acceptable.’  

That brings us to list number two. Give this one the following somewhat dramatic headline:

‘In a sea of excellence, I could stand out profoundly by…’

You will then create this second list ‘in contrast’ to the first list. As you look over your first list, you will now have to find ways to ‘beat’ each item. Or at least one way in which you might add something truly significant to the list. 

Don’t be afraid to think theatrically, too. As we progress beyond mere technical excellence, a sense of the spectacular should also come into play. If you can’t add nuts and bolts, add glitter and shine. 

I recommend using the second list as a sort of living document. Keep it in a prominent place, where you can continually meditate upon it and add new concepts as they come to you over the months and years. Its very existence is a commitment to the idea that you are striving to become exceptional, and thinking critically about specific ways to transcend the average. You are listing the concrete actions that can help you to become an industry icon. 


Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker and business author, who presents on 'HIGH-IQ Leadership' and disruptive innovation. See him in action, or book him as a motivational speaker, at