Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

But Is This On the Test?

Prolific marketing guru and author Seth Godin wrote a provocative blog post that had me thinking. Titled “Will this be on the test?”, it’s a (short and sweet!) piece about the importance of going above and beyond in everything you do.

Will this be on the test?

The test, of course, offers nothing but downside. No extra credit, just points marked off. The test is the moment where you must conform to standards, to say what is expected of you.

Perhaps a better question is, “Will this be in the Playbill?”

The Playbill is the little program they hand out before the Broadway musical. The Playbill is all about extra credit, about putting on a show, surprising, elevating, doing something more than people hoped for.

A different part of our brain is activated when we think about what’s possible as opposed to what’s required.

In our working lives, there is nothing more important than thinking about what can be done rather than what is limiting.

When Godin writes of a different part of the brain, he’s talking about the kind of mental energy involved in creativity, excitement and innovation. And these things are very different from the rote box-checking involved in simple taste taking. Godin’s must-read blog is full of similar inspiring observations. In one recent post, he makes the simple but powerful observation that every action you take every day could improve your track record:

Everything you do is either going to raise your average or lower it.

The next hire.

The quality of the chickpeas you serve.

The service experience on register 4.

Each interaction is a choice. A choice to raise your average or lower it.

Progress is almost always a series of choices, an inexorable move toward mediocrity, or its opposite.

Tomorrow morning when you go to work ask yourself: is my average going to be higher or lower today and will my work be worthy of the Playbill?