[Warning: If you are interested in a calm, comfortable life, this blog will be counterproductive for you.]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why I Will Dig For Buried Treasure In My Backyard. Literally. Yes, with a shovel.

A little while back, a business owner I know shared how he rates his employees. It took only a few sentences to explain and we moved on to other topics. But it kept coming back to me. The more I thought about it, the more it challenged me as a leader and as a man.

First, he names the expectation they're being evaluated on. He does a good job communicating his expectations before this conversation. It is unjust to hold someone accountable for an expectation you have not clearly explained in advance. After making sure the other person knows which expectation is being evaluated, he then assigns one of three ratings:
  • Remarkable
  • Compliant
  • Resistant
I’ve been a part of many evaluation conversations. I’ve even designed them. But he captured something I’ve never seen before. The middle rating I’m used to is “acceptable” or “meets expectations”. But “compliant"…well, being there means I’m not doing anything wrong. But it’s not acceptable either.

This rating system is great for anyone leading other people. I recommend using it. But that’s not what I couldn’t stop thinking about. I couldn’t stop asking myself, after my friend shared his approach with me, how I would rate myself? Imagining others saying ”He was compliant” at my funeral makes me feel a little sick to the stomach.

Which areas of my life have I settled for compliance? And what's keeping me from being remarkable?

Maybe the reason I’m not being remarkable in an area is that I have too many balls in the air. No one has the time and energy to be remarkable in many, many areas all at the same time. Then maybe I need to reduce the number of balls I'm trying to juggle. Three “remarkable” areas in my life would be more satisfying and meaningful than nine “compliant” areas.

Maybe, if I’m honest, the reason I’m not remarkable in a few areas is that I don’t care about being remarkable. Then why am I wasting time and energy on that area? Can I replace it with something I care about enough that I'd want to be remarkable? Or maybe I need to remind myself of why I ever starting doing it in the first place.

Action Idea: List out the different areas of your life, then rate yourself remarkable, compliant, or resistant. And, if applicable, see if you can shift one area from compliant to remarkable. Maybe you can come up with two ideas on how to be remarkable.

After thinking about it for a while, I finally did this. And there are some areas that I had to say aren’t remarkable, and I really care about them. I have decided to reduce some of my commitments. And I’m making some changes to how I approach some areas in my life.

My first change area will be weekends with my kids. In the past few years, I’ve slid into getting through the weekends with the minimum amount of fuss. I just wanted to make them as easy as possible so I could rest after a long week. I love my family--being with my wife and kids is truly refreshing for me. And I don't have any problem with rest as an important element to a remarkable weekend with my family. Taking a day a week to rest is so very wise. But I wouldn't say that "restful" is by itself enough to make the weekends remarkable. 

One idea I've think will get me closer to remarkable: At least twice in the next couple of months, take my kids on a pretend adventure. For example, I plan to bury a "treasure" in the woods behind our house and we all go find it using a map I've drawn. Don’t tell my kids, it’s going to be a surprise. I need to decide what to put in there. Ice cream—my first idea—won’t work if they take too long to find it. Selecting the right pirate costumes are next. (Yes, of course I’ll be dressing as a pirate. The only question is whether I try to hike with a peg leg or not.)

Some of our weekend time will continue to include rest. It wouldn’t be remarkable if we were over-busy every weekend. But I'm no longer settling for getting through the weekends. I want a remarkable time with my family, every weekend. I may not accomplish that every time. But I’m going to at least try for remarkable.

What do you want to make more remarkable?


  1. Love It. the pirate idea is great! While the food or candy idea will certainly be fun, Also weaving a character trait or family value onto a "gold" coin or something could have lasting impact!

    1. Good thinking. Food isn't a bad idea, but you're right. I can make it more creative and meaningful than food. I've added that to my to do list, right after deciding on my costume. :)