What It Takes to Be Great


There’s a lesson I’ve learned, then forgotten, then relearned many times. Recently it’s been front and center in my mind, and this time I’m determined to keep it there.

The lesson is that in order to do anything worthwhile, you need to have the humility and the courage to learn. I’m not talking about formal education. I’m talking about “being thrown into a vat of boiling oil” on-the-job learning.

A very simple recent event brought this lesson to light again.

In addition to editing Research Access, I am the Vice President of Marketing at Survey Analytics.

Recently, Survey Analytics President Andrew Jeavons quite out of the blue posted the follow message on Yammer, our internal company messaging system:

“We have to be so far from our comfort zone that we quiver with fear.”

That one really got me thinking. In my career, my best work has been precisely when I challenged myself to take on new skills.

Why? In order to be great, you need to move away from the herd.

You need to challenge yourself in order to do something unique and worthwhile.

This is a SVG version of wikipedia File:Apple_...Why? Because, in the ungrammatical phrase popularized by Apple, in order to be great, you need to “Think Different.”

Psychology has taught us that people groups tend to converge in their opinions, assumptions – and their mental limitations.

Why would you limit yourself in that way?

Regardless of whether you are in an environment that embraces change, though, you make many choices each day. Don’t just do everything the standard way.

Sometimes it helps to get out of your normal routine. Because I’m not just a researcher, I’m also a marketer. As I write this, I’m at a fabulous marketing conference called Inbound2012.

As I’ve been learning about state of the art marketing thought, I’ve had numerous ideas for how to apply this thought to my other discipline, market research.

Earlier in my career, I was a researcher. Then I was a researcher and a research salesperson. Now I’m a researcher and a marketer – not to mention a blogger.

I didn’t foresee this path, and you likely can’t foresee yours. Challenge yourself, and you’ll be better at research – and whatever else you do.

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About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.

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