What If We Just Did The Easy Stuff?

Erik Cooper —  October 6, 2010 — 2 Comments

Everyone wants to be a Peyton Manning. A Bill Gates.  A (pre-Waterworld) Kevin Costner.  A Chris Daughtry.  A Jimmy Fallon. I would give anything to be a Tiger Woods (for the golf people…the golf).

An extreme talent with extraordinary gifts. All the opportunity. All the intangibles. The ability to emerge from anonymity because we own a skill very few others possess.

So we nobly work hard at doing something that that no one else can do. To differentiate ourselves.  To rise above the crowd and be noticed.  Sometimes that even includes complete stupidity (see: any cast member of MTV’s Jersey Shore or with the last name Kardashian).


But the older I get (and the longer I’m in leadership), the less impressed I am by people who can only do things nobody else can do. Sure, that’s one way to stand out. But what if there’s a more accessible way?

Here’s a little idea I’ve been throwing around (you can have this for free):

Instead of solely pursuing the difficult things that few can do.  Try being diligent with the easy things that few will do.

Anyone can set an alarm clock and get out of bed in the morning.

Anyone can be respectful of other people.

Anyone can show up when they said they’d be there.

Anyone can give their best effort every time they’re called upon.

Anyone can arrive on time (or maybe even a few minutes early).

Anyone can lay their ego down and serve someone else’s interests.

Anyone can tell the truth and keep a promise.

None of these things take any special talent. Any God-given prodigy.  Or 10,000 hours of practice.  Anyone can do them. But they will make you stand out like no one else (because very few people actually do).

So here’s a little secret to add to a repertoire of living a life that matters:  Do the easy stuff that everyone can do, but very few will do. Then you might actually still be around when that opportunity comes to change the world.

If you’re feeling a little paranoid, guilty, or that I’m talking directly to you, that’s OK.  I probably am.

Because I’m talking to me, too.

2 responses to What If We Just Did The Easy Stuff?

  1. This is a great point. I got to admit, my first reaction to the title was “That would be horrible. We got to man up and do what’s right even if it’s hard.” I guess I, like many people, just like to complicate things. It’s safer, because if I do something complex I can take my sweet time about it and no one will call me out on it. After all, it’s hard so it takes time. But, if I say I’m going to get up earlier and read my Bible or go to an outreach my church has, then I can’t fake my way through it for more than 24 hours without someone expecting to see results.

    Great post. I know it called me out.

    • I hear you Trevor. Not a call to stop doing the hard things, but I see so many people with so much talent that just can’t seem to perfect the stuff everybody else can do. Me included.

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