Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

I grew up in the 1980s, and my favourite actor at the time was Steve Martin (My all-time favourite actor is Humphrey Bogart, but that’s another story, and he was way before my time).

When Steve Martin was once asked for the secret of his success, he said this:

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

As we get towards the end of this wild and crazy year, we will each choose our own path for 2021 and beyond. Depending on how you’ve been affected by COVID-19 – and the resulting health crisis, economic crisis, and social crisis – you’ll be starting 2021 from a different point and setting out on a different course. But we can all follow the principle of “Be so good they can’t ignore you”.

I loved this from the first time I heard it – and of course, it doesn’t hurt that my favourite actor said it. And it’s been a mantra of mine ever since. When I ran a Web design business, that was our tagline: “First Step Communication – Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Later, when I started a career as a professional speaker, and I was an unknown, I decided the best way to get noticed was to be so good they couldn’t ignore me.

This is simple, but not simplistic.

This sounds so simple it’s easy to find fault with it. Some people might say things like:

  • “No, no, it’s not about being good; it’s about being noticed.”
  • “If you have enough money, you don’t have to be any good.”
  • and so on.

Of course, if you really want to take this literally, you’l find plenty of reasons to throw stones at it.

But keep these two things in mind.

YOU get to decide what “good” is and you get to decide who “they” are.

What does “good” mean for you? Depending on the context, it might be your technical competence, your interview skills when applying for a job, your number of social media followers, or maybe even the size of your bank balance.

And who are the “they” you want to not ignore you? It’s not the whole world. It might be your team, your boss, your friends, your kids, your partner, or a prospective romantic partner you’re trying to attract.

Decide what’s right and who’s right, and then “Be so good they can’t ignore you”!


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