You want to be excellent, but…

Let’s make an assumption:  you aspire to excellence, to affect change, to take a mundane topic and inject a healthy dose of aha! into your audience’s lifeblood. Awesome! Me too!


As the saying goes, Sometimes the enemy of the best is the good.

Whatever it is…employee on boarding training session, sales demo, marketing presentation, team meeting, project plan review…web conferencing/webcasting/webinars add a powerful dimension to our bag of communication and productivity options.

Do it without a commitment to excellence, however, and you might be the one they’re tweeting about. Example: in recent history I saw a tweet that said, “Webinar: the new waterboarding.”

Time to Think Different.

Recently my friend Mike Kunkle (@mike_kunkle) posted on Facebook “Just favorited ‘How Long Does it Take to Create Learning?’ on Slideshare.

Only half jokingly I commented, “A longer dang time than anybody usually wants to pay for…that’s how long :)”

His wise response: “What you said. Even in past internal roles, I’ve often been asked to short-cut the process and favor rapid development techniques that lessen learning effectiveness (I should add that not *all* rapid-dev lessens learning effectiveness, before I am lynched by colleagues in the training community).”

The big problem
In a word, overcommitment.

What to do about it
This is not a self-aggrandizing note…I confess I’m the king of “yes,” even when it kills me. Here’s the problem…this last month I dealt with a life-threatening situation, and while I can’t say for sure that it was a result of working a LOT to meet my commitments, I finally, just this last week, did what I’m going to encourage you to do:

Honor the people that pay.

In other words, when I got a call to speak for a prestigious publication, and their offer price was (waaaay) lower than I found reasonable for what I put into a presentation, I explained thus:

“Speakers, like writers, are a dime a dozen. For every one that’s making a living, if not really kicking ass in their business, there are hundreds who will speak for free. Fortunately, I’m not there, AND YOU DON’T WANT ME TO BE.

Why? Because if I take this gig, I’m going to resent that you want me for nothing, I’m going to not want to put in the hours to deliver you the excellence I want to give (why you want me in the first place), and I’m going to take away precious time from projects where clients are paying me a fair price.”

What to really do about it
The reality is that we each have different situations, and like Mike’s comment above, sometimes you don’t have a choice but to do the best you can within the constraints imposed on you. You can explain, create spreadsheets explaining value, argue analogically that the real work “on the house isn’t putting up a frame and walls so it looks like a house, it’s the finish work.”

But not always. Sometimes you have a choice.

The bottom line
Excellence in the right things is what gets you hired and re-hired. “Good enough” is why the world has a lot of freakin’ noise. Yes, sometimes there are constraints and you do the best you can with what you have, but I’d argue even that is a commitment to excellence. Me? I’m lousy at saying no, but I’m going to get excellent at that, too.

The question is, “Do you know what you’re worth? Such that you’re not willing to settle for less if it’s within your power to do so?”

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