Finding The Remarkable

Moan Lisa6913626777_0cbbc4c333_z

I was in the middle of writing a post about why it’s important for purpose-driven brands to stand out instead of blend in.

I’d just battered into submission the point that standing out doesn’t start with telling people things. It starts by making something remarkable.

The remarkable is something that is worth sharing. Something people will remark about with their friends.

The remarkable uniquely connects with the worldview of a unique tribe of people. It taps into their passion. Their cause. The remarkable is worth caring about. And worth sharing.

I was just about to wax poetic about the need to see and do things differently, to challenge the status quo, to change things, in order to make something remarkable.

That’s when I heard his voice

The ghost of Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  the guru of paradigm shifts and seer of change was whispering.

“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.” he said.

And principles are that core.

Like the law of gravity, principles have always existed. They are always in force whether you choose to recognize them or not. And they will affect the outcome of all your efforts whether you intend them to.

Through the eyes of dinosaurs

If you want a simple example of how principles work in the world of communications, just compare some time-honored thoughts of two advertising icons on the subject of headlines.

According to David Ogilvy, a headline should be no more than 11 words long. Period. That’s the rule.

A rule that doesn’t travel very well in a changing digital, social world.

Bill Bernbach, on the other hand, said that the principle, the purpose, of a headline is to get attention.

How you go about it is ever-changing. What works today in one situation will not work in another. But what doesn’t change is the principle of the need to get someone’s attention.

How to create something remarkable

Uncle Steve defined the principles that unleash us from the rules and best practices that so often keep us from seeing things differently.

And as a result, they put us in the position to create new things. Truly unique things.

Remarkable things that uniquely connect with the worldview of a tribe.

Things that help people.

New ideas that are sustainable because they are based on unchanging principles.

So the next time you’re beating your head against the status quo in hopes that the dizziness will make you see things differently enough to create something truly exceptional, take the advice and principles of Uncle Steve and his Seven Habits.

Here they are. In my order, not his.

1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Before you start developing value propositions, positioning strategies or brand stories from your point of view, do some research among your tribe.

Find their passion, their purpose, and goals. Find out what they look for when they make a decision and gain insights into what’s most valuable to them. And, as a result, what they want to talk about.

In the process, you’ll probably learn how you can help them. Which is a lot more powerful than just talking at them.

2. Be proactive

You have the power to act and not be acted upon. There are many options available to you to create something new.

In fact, the truly remarkable may emerge out of difficult situations or from things that on the surface may seem to be weaknesses. Often they are only so when viewed from the status quo.

Take the time and effort to reframe them. Look at them differently through the insight you gained from your value research.

3. Begin with the end in mind

Before you develop any piece of your solution or brand story, see the complete program.

Find the unifying story.

Determine all the ways different parts of the big story can be told.

Figure out how each piece relates to others and what function it will perform to create a chain of experiences that move people and connect them to one another and to the tribe’s cause and movement.

4. Synergize (don’t collaborate)

In its simplest form, innovation through collaboration consists of two or more people coming together, each armed with an idea. Through their interaction they each improve each other’s ideas.

But synergy goes way beyond collaboration. Through the clash of different ideas and perspectives, a third, totally new idea emerges.

This third idea is almost always more powerful than an improved idea.

5. Think win/ win

The only way to get to synergy is if all parties have what Dr. Covey called an abundance mentality. That is a firm belief that there are many solutions to a problem. Not just one.

So there is plenty of credit to go around for everyone.

And therefore, in finding the third idea, no one losses and everyone wins.

6. Sharpen the saw

Your idea may already be lurking in your subconscious mind. After you’ve researched and struggled to find it, move away from it.

Go to an art museum. Take a road trip. Let your subconscious work on it. Get away and let the idea come to you.

Just be ready to write it down because it’s likely to pop into your head at the most unexpected time and place.

7. Number seven

I’ll leave the seventh habit for you to discover for yourself. It’s worth the effort.

You can apply these principles in different ways to your purpose, your organization, your brand and yourself.

It will make a difference.

It has for me. And for that I am very grateful to Stephen Covey. And the things he has whispered in my ear.

He helped many of us to not only see things differently, but to see the exceptional.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s your take?


Thanks to Moan Lisa for use of the image