Doing the unexpected: The path to preeminence
One of my favorite communications principles is Judee Burgoon’s “Expectancy Violations Theory.” People tend to conduct their lives with little true variation from their routine. But once in a while a billboard, a conversation, or an experience interrupts the comfortable daily pattern. That record-scratch moment is when you now have someone’s full attention, waiting to see what happens next. If you can do the unexpected in a positive way, you can completely alter the way your audience thinks about a person, brand or a product.
When Glen Jackson opened his book launch for Preeminence: What It Means and How to Sustain It, he based the premise of his work—and his professional path—on the philosophy of DTU: doing the unexpected. According to Jackson, preeminence is extraordinary excellence, first-rate thinking and unparalleled execution but does not include perfection. Offering superlative work does not mean not making mistakes but learning from them and trusting problems will be solved.
Doing the unexpected on the path the preeminence creates a formidable and tangible competitive advantage. The CEO picking up coffee for the office is doing the unexpected on the small scale, building company culture. The CEO shutting down its entire operations for one day to reteach employees how to make espresso is doing the unexpected on a grand scale with a company that made over $22 billion in 2017 to get back to the basics of their core business.
No matter the size of the gesture, doing the unexpected to create positive momentum for your personal or professional life is a worthy risk. What will you try next?