The Cream Rises to the Top

You may have heard that old phrase. Those with years of life experience have likely heard it more than once. If you are kind, live responsibly, work hard, and stay out of trouble, you will rise above average. Could it be that simple? 

Last week I placed a call to someone to inquire of her professional services. After receiving a generic voice mail message indicating the party was not available, I left a message requesting a returned call. 

The returned call came, but was not as expected.  Apparently my message was left at the wrong number and therefore reached the wrong person. Instead of the recipient discarding the message and going about her busy day, she called to inform me that my message didn’t reach its intended destination. 

“I wanted to make sure you knew your party did not receive your message,” the caller said. Hers was one of the most refreshing calls I’d received in quite some time. Due to her taking time to communicate information important to me, I was able to quickly redirect my call and finally reach the person intended. 

If you want to be above average, start with genuine courtesy:

  • Always return messages. No one person or job is more important than another. Don’t “discount” messages as unimportant. While the message may not be important to you–it is to them. Offer at least a brief response and treat others with the same respect you would like. 
  • Be truthful. If you are not interested in further communication, just say so.  “Thanks for calling, but no need to call back, I’m not interested in what you are offering.” Don’t avoid communication because you are afraid of hurt feelings or conflict. Be direct and communicate boldly but kindly. Most people appreciate knowing where they stand. 
  • Express an interest in others. You never know who you might meet or what may develop from random conversations and chance meetings. Don’t get so lost in your schedule or cell phone that people become less important than the steady flow of distractions that are often un-important. 
  • Take time to compliment others. Later that week I phoned this persons supervisor to make them aware of her rare manners in an often rude world. Thankful for my call,      they assured me she made a habit of exceeding expectations and that she was a “gem” to work with daily.


Setting yourself apart from others is not difficult. It takes building solid relationships and a desire to do what it takes to rise above average. Repetitive kills such as kindness, clear and concise communication, and authenticity are power magnets for success and promotion.  Then add a disciplined attitude coupled with gratitude and you quickly become the person others want to be around. 

Does the cream always rise to the top? Perhaps not always, but you will never know until you rise above the average to see who is in the lead. 


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