If you ask someone to make an exception for you, make sure it’s because you are delivering exceptional performance. If a policy, procedure, or rule is impeding your ability to perform, help team members succeed, or impress customers, then it’s your responsibility to suggest viable solutions and expect an exception.
Never ask for or accept an exception for any reason other than exceptional performance. Reversion to the mean is the reward for those that believe they are entitled to exceptions.
The only reason people so routinely ask for exceptions is that they’ve learned either directly or vicariously that almost any personal inconvenience can be justified as an exceptional circumstance. A culture of exceptions is bad for the reputation and performance of your organization, and that’s bad for your career. It’s deceptively easy to become part of the mediocre mass of folks that put daily pressure on leaders to lower standards to their own lackluster levels of comfort.
I have tremendous respect for people that can say in a matter-of-fact way “I dropped the ball on that one, but it’s my bad, I know what I did wrong, and I’ll try very hard to keep it from happening again.” Falling short does not make the sincere quest for excellence any less virtuous. Setting high standards for yourself and refusing to make excuses when you struggle to meet those standards guarantees you will be exceptional, because the majority of your peers have compared themselves among themselves and would rather ask for exceptions than assume full personal responsibility when things don’t go exactly the way they want.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!