The Mentor’s Message: Be the Best

runnerWhen I was a boy my parents encouraged me to “be the very best.”  Back then, only the very best got a trophy!  Nowadays the Wheaties® cereal box mantra has changed to “just do your very best” and all the teams get a trophy just for playing.   It’s been a source of discomfort for me for years.

Now before you jump on the “promoting self-esteem” band wagon, let me say that I do not believe a young sand lot baseball player has failed unless he or she makes it to the World Series.  But, I keep remembering hearing an interview with Olympic gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton in which an interviewer said: “We honestly didn’t know you had it in you.”  Smiling, she responded, “Me either.”

Mary Lou didn’t stop at some definition of her personal best—she went beyond.  When the customer service director of a client company spent a night at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, she returned saying, “What we thought was A level service is only a C+.  We need to get much better and we didn’t even know it!”

Great mentors are champions of distinction; cheerleaders for excellence.  They encourage their protégés to “play over their head”—excel beyond their definition of merit.  Are you encouraging your protégé to strive for the very best or are you settling for what your protégé thinks is his or her best

P.S. Don’t miss the great blog post by Colin Weatherby called How Rejection Can Inspire Great Movements: The Story of Makers posted on March 15, 2013 on FastCompany.

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Dr. Chip R. Bell is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and innovative service. Global Gurus ranked him in 2018 the #2 keynote speaker in the world on customer service; #1 in North America. He also is the author of numerous national and international best-selling books including Take Their Breath Away, Managing Knock Your Socks off Service, Magnetic Service, The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service and Customers as Partners. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

His newest customer service book is the award-winning, best-selling book Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.

Dr. Bell has appeared live on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Fox Business, ABC, CBS, NPR Marketplace and his work has been featured in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company.


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