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How to Be Remarkable

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I have a bad, bad habit. Every couple of months or so, I conduct risky home-made experiments on my hair, typically involving an assortment of chemicals and scissors. Occasionally, there are accidents. You’d think I would have learned after the first five times I turned my hair green or caused chunks to fall out. I have not.

After one such episode last year, a friend sent me to Vivian, a salon owner in Indianapolis. I broke my personal record that day, spending eight hours in Vivian’s chair so she could fix my latest mishap. (Getting the color all over my head to match was considered a success.)

Most shocking was when Vivian called my cell phone a few days later. What’s that about?–I mumbled, staring at the caller ID. On the other end of the line, Vivian said, “How’s your hair doing? Are the products you bought working ok? Because, if they aren’t, I’ll take them back, you know. I was just thinking about you and wondered if you have questions or need anything.”

When I told her I couldn’t afford the treatment she’d recommended earlier, she responded, “I don’t care about that; let me just bless you and you pay whatever, whenever you want — or not at all.”

Here’s a woman who cared more about my hair than I did. I was so shocked I probably told 10 people about Vivian. (Can you say word of mouth?) Needless to say, I’ve been her advocate ever since (and I insisted on paying full price).

I often thought of Vivian while reading Mark Sanborn’s The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do, which I devoured in a couple of hours. The best-selling author defines the Encore Effect as the natural outcome of remarkable performance: the kind that gets people buzzing about you and demanding more and more of whatever you do. Deliver a remarkable product or service in a remarkable way, Sanborn writes, and you’ll have people coming back for more. In fact, delivering just 5 percent more or performing 5 percent better than the average may be enough to put you in the “remarkable” territory.

Amidst the a-ha moments packed in the book, Sanborn wraps up each chapter with “Intersection,” a summary section that blends business intelligence with biblical precepts.

Let’s face it, even if you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, you and I must recognize that He was amazingly successful in leading a team of goofballs (the disciples) in a way that turned them into remarkable performers, transformed entire cultures and changed world history. (And, may I remind you, He did so one person at a time — without the help of mass media?)

It follows, then, that applying His principles to our work must produce remarkable results. Sanborn concurs: “Being more like Jesus means being remarkable in the way we do our work and live our lives.”

Now, we all know a jerk or two (or ten) who identify themselves as followers of Christ while the only remarkable thing about them is their incompetence or unreliability. That’s where authenticity — the distance between our lips and our lives — comes in. In the paraphrased words of Jesus, “Why do you call me ‘Lord’ when you don’t follow anything I say?”

“We can’t talk with credibility about how Jesus has changed us if we don’t demonstrate that difference,” Sanborn explains. “And the difference He makes should be remarkable.”

And so we come to my New Year’s resolution: Whether I’m a blonde or a brunette (or a greenette), I’m going to be remarkable.


6 Responses

  1. I’m not a hair adventurer at all! If I could find that many pictures of me, the hair would be pretty much the same in all of them.

    You do have a remarkable blog, I’m so glad you came by mine so I could find yours. I see a few books I didn’t know about and some links to explore, not to mention your archives. I’ll be back!

  2. Thanks a bunch, Stefanie! I truly appreciate you taking the time to visit and write. Have a great 2009.

  3. The Bathroom Lady —

    At my former company we had a woman whose job was to continually police the restrooms on all eight floors – replace rolls of toilet paper , reload the hand towels, wipe the counter, etc. She had come to us from a business up the street, where she had helped set up and prepare meeting and conference rooms for use. She came because we paid her more money. She was with us less than a year.

    Why? Because the business up the street CAME LOOKING FOR HER and wooed her back with (hopefully a lot) more money. Again, why? All she did was “prep” the restrooms. But oh, how she did it. Each new toilet paper roll was started, with that little point folded on the end, eliminating the time you had to sit there and pick free the glued down end of a new roll. Hand towels were placed in the dispenser with the folds facing the correct way, and the dispensers were never over-stuffed, ensuring a quick easy pull would render one, and only one, blissfully un-torn towel at a time. The sinks and counters were always spotless and you didn’t have to worry about setting your purse down in a pool of water. And she smiled and was pleasant whenever you encountered her. The difference was pronounced when she left and the new restroom lady started work.

    Her former business was smart enough to recognize what they had lost when they lost her, and even smarter to win her back. I am sure she prepared the conference rooms with as much attention to detail and all the little touches that make life easier as she did policing our restrooms. Both might seem to be such humble jobs, one might say, but I have never seen a job done better. Even now I often think of this woman when I start to feel that a particular task is not worth my time and effort. Or when I’m looking for a dry spot on which to set my purse while I wash my hands.

  4. Hi, Regina, thanks for stopping by and sharing the story (I love stories). Happy New Year!


  5. It looks to me like you started off with a remarkable post! Thanks for putting such a great challenge out ther for all of us!

    bibledude.net and
    management by God

  6. Loved this post…and wish I lived closer so I could make an appointment with Vivian too.

    Commuting from California isn’t really an option for me though.

    My first stop over here…great blog!

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