image courtesy of the herb brooks training center

“you can’t be common, the common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon.” — legendary hockey coach, herb brooks

of all of herb brooks’ quotes, i love this one the most. i don’t know that it’s something i do intentionally, or if it’s something in my natural programming, but i don’t do common work.

over the last week or so, i’ve heard some pretty high praises from my client. the program manager said of me in a management meeting, “john scardino, that dude is phenomenal.” and just about a week after that comment was made, another member of my client’s organization said, “not to put any pressure on you, but you’re going to save [this project].”

i only know how to do things one way: the best way that i know how to do it. so, to me, i’m not so sure that i’m really doing anything that’s truly special. i see coworkers all the time logging long hours and doing a lot of great things. the stuff my officemate is doing makes me shake my head in astonishment. i say it no matter where i go: there are better people than me. but there’s something that seems to separate me from the rest.

i’m uncommon.

i do a lot of the same things that other people on my team do. i build models (sometimes fairly complex ones) in microsoft excel, just as they all do. i build powerpoint decks, just as

everyone else in the firm. what i don’t do is use default formatting. and what i don’t do is take the easy way out.

i could create models that illustrate how things will work once in the system, but i don’t. i create models that work now, outside of the system. if you expect drop-down menus with options online, you’re going to get the same features in excel. i could create images in powerpoint that use the default formatting, but i don’t. i create slides that present information in a way that makes more sense, keeps clutter down, and looks good in the process.

having recently passed my 1 year mark, i’ve been trying to reflect on what i’ve accomplished over that 12 month span; something that i can look at and say, “you know what, i’m doing something right.” and i can say that the one thing i can hang my hat on is influence. i’ve been able to influence the other members of my team. my supervisor has learned as much from me as i’ve learned from him, and every day i’m seeing my officemate and other coworkers on the team starting to introduce bits of my work into theirs. i see them starting to become uncommon.

i hate two words more than any: “default,” and “common.” because it means that you’re being wholly unoriginal. you have to be original. and honestly that’s the best thing that i can say about a person—that they are original. because as herb brooks said, ‘the common man goes nowhere.’

i can sit around and do common work, but frankly i get paid too much money to do so. they deserve better from me, and i deserve better from myself. i do uncommon work because in the end, that’s what separates me from the rest. there are other people who are smarter than i am, who are better than i am, and who are more talented than i am, but i’ve been able to reach the levels of success that i have strictly because i do things differently.