I graduated yesterday with my Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Officially I completed coursework in August but the pomp and circumstance was held this past Saturday in front of friends and family. In the keynote address our class was advised that Masters’ Degrees are now becoming more necessary to differentiate as Bachelors’ Degrees are nearing some 40 per cent of the work force.
No, this isn’t a plug for my degree or even a pat on the back—though I do feel proud and would recommend the experience to many.
The point of this is to examine ourselves, our business and our market to see if we are merely producing at average levels as the bar for success becomes higher.
Fifteen years ago, having a website might have been enough to differentiate your organization. Fifteen years ago, earning a Bachelor’s Degree meant you probably got a job immediately upon graduation. Fifteen years ago, cars that got 20 miles to the gallon were exceptional. Today none of those things is true.
In fact, none of those things would even cause pause today. They would simply be, as my Marketing Professor would say, ‘Table Stakes.’ Is your level of activity today just table stakes? Is your offering to the consumer barely at ‘pay to play’ levels?
It’s not enough to give people what they want anymore. We must show people what they didn’t know they needed. It’s not enough to work within our job description but we must show employers how we go above and beyond. And it’s definitely not enough to accept what was great several years ago because it’s likely just mediocre today.
Mediocre will never cut through the noise. Average will never fulfill our dreams. And just-enough never is. If we are going to live the lives we desire, run the companies we envision, and truly fulfill our passion, talents and abilities we need to find something exceptional.
Certainly, an advanced degree is one of many, many pathways to exceptional. However, being exceptional is one of the few pathways to success.