The Decision to Exceed Expectations

The Decision to Exceed Expectations | Recruiting News

Continuing with the week’s theme of being a professional, consider what it takes to be a dominant force in any endeavor.

As we watch or play sports, we all know there are victories, and then there are V I C T O R I E S.  Being a football fan, last year’s NCAA season gave us some incredible wins: like West Point barely falling to Number five Oklahoma in OT, Stanford’s OT win against Oregon, or LSU’s 7OT Record setting loss to A&M.  The close ones that excite and surprise us are worth the price of admission.  Then there is utter domination – Florida chomping UT with the most points they’ve ever scored at Neyland and Clemson’s record setting romping of Bama to close the FBS season.  We always want the latter for our team.

We will talk about those wonderfully exciting, record breaking wins for years to come.  Yet, no matter what sport you follow, you will also always remember the many times a hyped performance does not meet expectations.  Super Bowls are often not so super.  The commercials can even sometimes be more exciting. Pay-per view fights are super-hyped and often underwhelming – occasionally  decided in seconds.  People will demand a refund.

Back to the wins we remember.  With only 13 horses ever having won the Triple Crown, it may represent the ultimate level of dominating performance in any sport.  Having just ended the beginning of this month, this year’s quest for the Triple Crown was filled with riderless horses, controversial disqualifications and under qualified winners.  There was not even a double winner in the three races.  It proved the horseracing adage, “There is no such thing as a sure thing.”

Then, there was Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes in ’73.  He was the exception to every rule.  

Almost half a decade ago now, Secretariat was a runaway favorite  to take the race and become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.   There has only been four since that year.  The expectations were off the charts leading up to the race.  Having already established utter dominance by setting new track records in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes – a come from behind win – he was being called “the people’s horse” and “the idol”.

The horse’s response to competition and the grand expectations was legendary.  At Belmont, he went well beyond the hype and set another track record, beating the nearest steed by over 31 lengths.  He was so far out in front, the television cameras of the time could not even capture another horse in frame with their largest, wide angle lenses.

The Decision to Exceed Expectations

What Secretariat achieved is the equivalent of being 13 under par in golf, like Gary Woodland this weekend, or seeing 150 points scored by a single player in a basketball game, like has never happened.  It was total and complete domination.  His only point of reference….his only competition…was himself. 

His time of 2:24 for 1.5 miles set a record many argue will never be broken, and his performance – his ability to bring it when everything is on the line, to go faster than ever before, and possibly ever again – that is the stuff legends are made of…..In a time when finding enduring heroes was tough, a noble animal showed the world what it meant to truly aspire to greatness and dominate your way to triumph.

Secretariat may likely go down in eternity as the most transcendent personality in sports.  He not only rose to the challenge, he Exceeded Expectations.  Without question, this is the standard against which all performances must be judged.

We each have the ability to deliver jaw dropping, mind blowing performance in those areas where we have developed our strengths; and we each can improve more company operations by providing solutions far superior to anything already available.  We have within us all that is needed to outpace and outmatch every other performance out there…


Today, set within yourself the decision you will Exceed Expectations.  Let this one ideal inform all you do.  Set in motion development, recruiting and marketing efforts to meaningfully impact your present and future success.  Decide you and your company are built for greatness.

If you came to work this way every day, can there be any logical outcome other than Exceeding Expectations?

To establish preeminence is the act or quality of being superior…to exceed expectations.  It is the highest status or distinction of any person, place or thing considered to be the very best at anything – the gold standard by which to be measured.  It is Hussein Bolt.  It is Michael Phelps. It is a record setting 13 – 0 win in World Cup play by the US Women’s Soccer team that put the world on notice.

In many ways, creating a dominant performance is the ultimate form of respect for your craft and those you compete against. When challenged about the unrelenting pace of play the USA maintained after pulling to 7 – 0 early in the second half, coach Ellis was clear: “To be respectful against opponents is to play hard against opponents. You have to go out and compete. This is what they’ve dreamt about….We’re going to stay humble and go back to work.”

Dominance and humility?

Establishing preeminence should be the underpinning of your company culture; it is why you have been brought to your team, it is why your company was created, and it must resonate through your daily efforts.  Everything you do must flow through this one belief – you and your company are the best….with all due humility.  No company has in its vision statement, “becoming the most average ________”.  When people ask for our help, they are not hoping we will bring the most average set of candidates for them to consider. 

Decide today to run in front of the pack.  Leave the Competition in the dust.  Put your market space on notice they should prepare for an unmatched performance.  Simply do not give the competition – whatever form it takes – any chance to win. You won them, and yourself, that kind of respect.

Extolling the drive to Exceed Expectations will open doors for you wherever you go…. You will Model the highest possible morale, earn the respect of clients, peers and the market, persevere when others fade away, and enjoy the benefits of enhanced corporate and talent-branding capital.  You will have more freedom, joy, control and quality in your work.  Those benefits, along with a bevy of other strategic by-products, will be the direct result of this Decision to be Preeminent.

If you are ready to expand your capacities and surpass the goals of your company, we can help you dominate performance standards and Exceed Expectations.  At Cerca Talent+ , we help you Identify how to execute on this ideal for yourself and the team by understanding your talent needs and market dynamics.  We will help you prioritize hiring the preeminent players in your space who can deliver the kind of massive results others will write about.

We are here to help you set records.  Email me, Scott Rivers, at

Adapted from Phillip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune and Gary Ryan Blair