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The extraordinary ordinary leader

Being a leader means paying attention, seeking learning experiences and beating out your own best days instead of being in competition with others.

4 min read



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You look uniquely familiar. You, the one who has learned to believe in yourself, trust yourself and follow the quiet inner voice that says, “Why not me?” You don’t think you’re “better” than other people; you’ve just learned through ups and downs, the gruel and the grind, and ordeals and adventures that you can find a way to overcome obstacles and finish the landing. And when you do, you make improvements so you can land closer to perfect next time. There is always more to do and better ways to do it.

You’re an achiever, someone blessed with divine discontent. You’re never fully satisfied with where you are because you know that with creativity, ingenuity and effort, any “great job” of today can be outdone tomorrow. Yes, you like to compete, and yes, you like to win. But winning is so much sweeter when you beat your own best, competing against yourself and topping your last big achievement. You want others to top themselves too. You expect more of yourself … and others.

You’re impatient, yes, but in a way that brings urgency to the task at hand, not in a way that adds to the risk or jeopardizes progress. Your impatience is connected to your passion; you know that the pursuit of the outcomes will lift everyone’s skills and deepen their experience. Progress turns on the engine of urgency. You keep your foot on the throttle because it moves things forward. You give a rip.

You’re a learner, a seeker, a curious venturer. You’re alert, interested and engaged, and when you aren’t, you scan the landscape for something new to reenergize your brain cells. Your learning is perpetual because you’re never done. You want answers that are more precise, accurate, truthful and enduring. You study, review and challenge, knowing skepticism is part of the calculation and thoughtfulness that lead to decisions and actions that are safer, sounder and more likely to succeed.

You pay attention to others who have traveled further down the road, accomplished grander things or overcome bigger obstacles. You go out of your way to learn about the experiences and stories of those who are commonly ignored, dismissed or excluded. You are humble enough to listen to everyone, and smart enough to heed advice coming from anyone. You aim to use whatever advantages you have enjoyed to make the workplace more fair, just and equitable for everyone. You use your voice to amplify the concerns of those whose voices are too often suppressed. You treat no one as lesser. Ever.

You haven’t had it easy. You’ve experienced setbacks, barriers and people who weren’t on your side. Despite that, or because of it, you strive to see and expect the best in others — even those who withhold those courtesies from you. You’re a believer in human potential. As much as you believe in your own abilities, you know that your game is upped by people who play an upped game, so you take the time to teach, coach and serve others. You have little interest in going it alone, as your goals and aspirations are bigger than you could achieve all on your own. Besides, working with fiercely independent individuals who choose to put the team’s interests above their own is more fun than flying solo.

Some of you can calculate numbers in your head. Some of you have always been “good with people.” Some of you have a knack for pinpointing risks. Some of you have spatial awareness and can conceptualize what finished rooms or buildings will look like before they are built. Some of you excel at forecasting scenarios and setting the master plan. Though the talents may be different, all of you have proven yourself to yourself. Many times over, whether in school, on the sports field, or in how responsibly you’ve performed your first jobs, you’ve shown up and gotten the job done. You know you’re going to have to prove yourself to many others in the future — and you’re up to that challenge. In fact, you relish it. 

You’re a leader. And you’re just getting started.

Excerpted from Leadership Two Words at a Time, by Bill Treasurer.

Bill Treasurer is a bestselling author, leadership coach, ex-high diver, and courage-building pioneer. Learn more at

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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