I find it interesting to observe people that are at the top of their game. The best of the best. In particular, it is interesting to notice their focus and their often unique perspective.
One thing I have consistently observed is the focus on precision. Some might call it “laser focus.” A focus on exactly the standard of excellence they expect of themselves and those around them that is more precise than most people require of themselves. When done right, this is what helps make them so successful.
A recent example of this precision struck me as interesting. The March 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine (as well as goodhousekeeping.com) has a feature called “Styled for Success” (which is also on the web as “What to Wear to a Job Interview”).
One of the business women featured is my wife Doris (who is a smart entrepreneur with her own business, RealSource).
The photos for this feature were shot in November in New York. I tagged along on the trip with Doris for the two days of photo shoots as well as the hair and make-up sessions associated with the story. As she told someone, I was her “posse.”
On the afternoon of the first day Rita Hazan was coloring Doris’ hair. I had learned through my quick web research that Rita is the hair colorist of choice for many big name celebrities and was a guest on Oprah just three weeks earlier.
The writer for the magazine story was asking Rita questions as she worked, including, “Are you putting highlights on her hair?”
Rita’s response struck me as very precise in a way that few people would consider. She said, “I’m putting highlights where they belong.” And yes, she said it with this emphasis.
Now I admit I can be a stereotypical guy about hair styles and color. That is, I’m rather clueless. However, I’ve still overheard women for years discuss color and highlights and I have NEVER heard that type of phrase about hair color, “…where they belong.” In fact, it is rare to hear this type of precision mentioned on any relatively common task.
I gathered from this that Rita is not one of the best of the best just because of her charm. She is darn good at what she does and she “knows her stuff.” She also sees her work very precisely, more precisely than most. She doesn’t add highlights to hair. She adds highlights to specific and exact locations. There is a big difference.
As you work to be the better (or the best) at communication, your job and even your relationships, consider your precision. Do you say things “where they belong?” Do you place your priorities “where they belong?” Do you work to be sure projects and clients get the best answers? Do you focus on being better or the best in your efforts?
The best of the best often make their work look easy. Because of that, it can be easy to think they are just lucky or well connected. But if you pay close attention, you can often see how good they are at the little things that make their work exceptional.