Tom Watson’s Thought

Sep 28 2006

I read something else in The Brand You 50 that’s been bouncing around in my head a lot lately. I believe it was a quote from Tom Watson of IBM, who suggested:

Stop doing non-excellent stuff.

And it got me thinking. How much of my time is spent doing stuff that’s just uninteresting? Or that just doesn’t help anyone or anything?

(Note that you can have excellent relaxation. This is not about working more.)

It’s also made me think about scale. There’s “non-excellent stuff” in the larger sense, which is about rethinking all those projects we’re involved in and re-framing them in ways that can make them cool.

But there’s also the smaller scale. What am I doing right now? When I cook, what am I striving for? Palatbility? Or excellence?

(Note that reaching for excellence does not mean expecting it. I can fall short a hundred times; that’s not the point.)

In other words, what are my standards? For my work? For my writing? For my driving? (Oof.) For the books I read? For my conversations with other people? (Do I chat about the weather or do I try to go deeper, with the people I care deeply about?)

Thanks, Tom; I have a lot to think about. And a lot to do, which is even more important.

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