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Three Steps to Help You Make the Leap from Acceptable to Exceptional

The modern information age has helped open doors and break down barriers across industries and occupations. It’s true that more people now have a shot at becoming successful in their career of choice, but this also means that everyone faces increased competition. Let’s say you’ve found your calling in life, and you’re determined to practice and master the skills required to make the cut. You may still find that simply being good isn’t good enough; due to competition, success often requires you to be exceptional. Here are three steps to help you reach the next level.

Pursue continuous learning

Being “good enough” is another way of saying “acceptable”—those who become exceptional aren’t satisfied with that. They don’t accept that they have learned all there is to know or pushed as hard and as far as possible. To be outstanding when faced with stiff competition, you have to be doing something different. That requires some level of creativity, which, as Steve Jobs said, is “just connecting things.” The only way to keep on growing, develop your creativity, and get better overall is to adopt similar flexibility and open your mind to continuous learning and change.

Listen to others for feedback and observe them as they practice skills that you’d like to acquire or emulate. Take ownership of your learning and seek out additional resources that will help you break down complex skills and overcome roadblocks to mastery.

Assemble the right team

A fashion accessory business may get its initial success with a younger demographic and then want to move up into selling luxury items; to do so, working with a jewelry retouching company and high-end marketing team will be necessary. In the same way, you can learn a skill and reach a certain level of competency with a solo effort, but you can only go so far and achieve so much on your own.

Start to interact with and receive support from the people who can help you get to the next level. By deliberately assembling the right team, you can benefit from the mentorship of those who have been there before, made mistakes you can learn from, and possess unique expertise that you simply can’t acquire from online tutorials and guides.

Dedicate yourself completely

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Student drivers know they need to complete a certain number of hours of training before they can be cleared to drive safely on the road. Once that initial hurdle is done, most of us spend countless hours driving on the road over the years. While that practice can certainly make you a better driver, it’s not enough to make you world-class. You need to deliberately seek out challenges and situations that most people never encounter or actively try to avoid for safety or practical reasons. How often do you go out in heavy rain or try to park in reverse on an incline?

Mastering the skill of driving isn’t for everyone, and the same could be said for any profession. It’s not enough to just log those 10,000 hours of practice; you need to exercise discipline and complete dedication. Step out of your comfort zone. Look for the little facets and unusual applications within your domain, and work on mastering them—chances are, those are the details others often overlook.

Lots of people hit the plateau of becoming good enough and never take it from there. If you’ve found your passion, make the extra effort, and use these steps to become exceptional at what you do, and eventually achieve success.

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