What it Takes to Create Something Truly Remarkable

wow stickerRemarkable is not a synonym for perfect. Far from it.

In fact, some of the most remarkable things in life are remarkable because of their imperfections, not in spite of them. (Think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.)

For the kind of remarkable I’m talking about, it’s your commitment and effort and energy that makes it special… and truly remarkable.

What do Remarkable Things have in Common?

Here’s a personal list of some remarkable things I’ve seen.

  • A drummer on the subway platform who, with several empty buckets and a couple of drumsticks, created a majestic symphony of percussive sound.
  • The dates wrapped in bacon that my daughter, Rya, baked for our cocktail party.
  • The recent speech by Kevin Durant when he accepted his MVP award.
  • The list of 10 letter to live by developed by Dr. James Doty.
  • The new and elaborately painted graffiti tags on a long cement wall I walk by every day.

What do these things have in common? Why do I consider each and every one remarkable?

Because each one is infused with someone’s intention and energy and effort. Even the graffiti tags were designed and done with care:


(Notice how different the graffiti tags are from the sloppily scrawled spray marks behind them.)

3 Key Ingredients of Making Something Remarkable

Here are three ingredients I believe go into creating something truly remarkable.

1. Invest yourself.

You’ve got to invest time and energy in both the concept and the details. Remarkableness is a reflection of your intention, commitment, effort and follow-through. Those alone don’t guarantee a remarkable product, but it’s hard to be remarkable without them.

2. Embrace complexity.

Most remarkable things seem simple, but getting to that simplicity required considering many options and possibilities. Wrestling with complexity seems to be an important part of the process.

3. Forget about being perfect.

Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Remarkableness is about intention and effort and generosity, not perfection. Take a look at the remarkable (yup, remarkable) TED talk by Brené Brown who talks convincingly on the power of imperfection.

What Matters Most Is Committing Yourself

In the end, perhaps it doesn’t much matter if what you create is really remarkable. What matters more is that you’ve invested time and attention and energy in something. That, by itself, is worth the effort. And if you do that often enough, you’re likely to create remarkable things time and time again.

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Think of 3 Things that are Remarkable

What have you noticed in the last week or so that you would categorize as remarkable? What draws you to them? What do your selections have in common?

When you regularly take a moment to reflect on the remarkable creations around you, you’re that much more likely to create something remarkable yourself.

Please share your list of remarkable things in the comments. Taking the time to recognize and reflect upon what’s truly remarkable in our day-to-day lives is excellent fuel for the creative process.

  • Randy

    These may not be what you are looking for – but this week – the things that made me take a pause..

    1. Full moon – there is something about it that I always found amazing – it was a semi-clear sky – so you had a bright moon – with transparent clouds passing by it. A sight to behold.

    2. A small but sporty vehicle – it was a Ford Focus – but I never seen that particular color before- it was a mix of orange – yellow and black stirred together – I just kept staring at it – once again – not sure if I am on the right track here with these but that was one thing that made me pause and enjoy the scenery as it were.

    3.Lastly – I watch a show called the Voice – I was amazed with the different stage designs they built for each singer. From a light mist – with soft lighting, a spotlight with family photos. – a darkened background with an small orchestra emerging and a breathtaking one with chandeliers and fog.

    Okay – I may be way off base with my remarkable things. That being said, these are the things that made me pause and enjoy what I was looking at.

    I also love the line from the invest yourself ingredient- “Those alone don’t guarantee a remarkable product, but it’s hard to be remarkable without them.”

  • Andrea Kihlstedt

    Hi Randy, I love your list. You raise the wonderful point that remarkableness is created by the observer as well as the creator! The fact that you comment on them actually makes them remarkable! Literally–worthy of a remark. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.