First, if you have not already, watch this video of Paul Potts on Britain’s Got Talent:
The great thing about this video is the unexpectedness of mastery. Simon Cowell (one of the judges) put it this way:
“So you work at Carphone Warehouse and you did that? I wasn’t expecting that.”
However, I think the unexpectedness of an unassuming person producing this kind of mastery is only a part of the real unexpectedness (maybe even a very small part). I know many unassuming people that produce extraordinary results.
I think the real unexpectedness is where this kind of mastery was performed. You see, a great wine at a five star restaurant is expected, almost demanded. A great wine at McDonalds seems jarringly out of place. Why is that? After all, the greatness of the wine did not change. However, our expectation of where to find great wine certainly was violated.
The same applies to Paul. The mastery of Paul Potts does not change whether he performs on Britain’s Got Talent or the Royal Opera House in London. But just as we do not look for mastery when we watch an episode of Seinfeld, we don’t expect to find mastery on Britain’s Got Talent or any other TV show designed for entertainment. What Simon Cowell should of said was:
“You can do that and you came to our show?”
Unexpectedness gets our attention and mastery keeps our attention. There is a lot that we can learn from Paul Potts.