Are you a server? Athlete? Salesperson? Recruiter? Doesn’t matter.

I’d like to share something I’ve learned during my almost three-decade career, much of which has been as a business owner. These lessons will help you dominate in your profession irrespective of your particular vocation.

Before we get to that, there is one sad truth you’ll need to accept…

Doing what everyone else can makes you invisible. Doing anything worse than everyone else can makes you noticeable in the worst way.

You need to be able to stand out as in stand above. Here’s how.

Learn the traits first and the trade second. Jerry Rice wasn’t the quickest, fastest, or strongest wide receiver in NFL history. Why does he hold virtually every imaginable receiving record? He holds them because he obsessively focused on honing all the necessary, foundational skills required to be the best. He spent more time working on vision, reading the defensive back, agility, hip strength, cardio capacity, movement, and so forth. I’m sure he caught a lot of balls in practice too, but it was his dedication to those other areas that made him the best.

When I became a professional recruiter and started milewalk, I read a “how-to” recruit manual and then threw it in the garbage. I didn’t want to give it to someone else because he or she might read it too. It didn’t take long to realize it’s more beneficial to focus on developing sales skills to operate the company. For the matchmaking part of the business, I studied psychology—as in read psychology books and interviewed actual Psychologists. This helped me understand why people make bad career choices and why employers make poor hiring decisions. To become a better writer, I read more (and I already read a lot). You get the picture.

Set the trend. Keeping up with the latest trends, fashions, current events, or whatever essentially means you’re blending in with all the other keeping-up-with-the-Jones-s types. You need to be so far out ahead of your competition so you can try a bunch of things, screw ‘em up, and fix them before anyone catches you. The greatest trendsetters spend little time watching their competition because they’re too busy wiping the ocean water out of their eyes from standing on the bow of the boat. Think. Try. Fix. Repeat.

Stay organized. Get organized and stay organized. I know many people who can get organized one day only to be disorganized the next. This flip-flop is usually the result of all the shrapnel they’ve accumulated from the explosions of other more disorganized people. Great organization trumps talent. If you have both, you’re on your way to stardom.

Automate. Systems—even manual ones—make you more efficient and proactive. Why is it that my retail clothing salesperson knows precisely when to call me and already has all my shirts picked out? You know, the ones I really like because she has my taste, style, color preferences, telephone number, email address and a bunch of other vital stats in her computer.

Never stop asking, “What’s the problem?” or “How can I better help you?” In your personal life, you might not want to know. In your business life, you need to know. You can always do better, but just being better is not the goal. You want customers who will never ever leave you. If their replies to your questions resemble, “You’re doing great” or “I can’t think of anything,” then ask them one more question. “What level of service would it require for you to never consider my competitors?”

Go the extra mile. If you want something you’ve never had, you need to do something you’ve never done. If you want to give the world something it’s never had, you need to do something no one has ever done. It might be lonely along the extra mile, but you will live in an absolute ghost town if you’re a pioneer. Trust me. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your “secrets” to being the best?

If you enjoyed this article, you can find other wonderful tips and tricks related to life and work via the usual social spots at LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

As always, I give away a complimentary Interview Intervention eBook if you sign up for the milewalk newsletter on the front page of the milewalk Website!

In other exciting news, The Hiring Prophecies: Psychology behind Recruiting Successful Employees is now for sale!

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