I first heard that word years ago. My mother uttered it as she looked at a photograph of a young Elizabeth Taylor. It was a breathless pronouncement, so full of meaning.

Yes, I know I'm dating myself, but I'll continue anyway.

That word--stunning--and the picture of Elizabeth Taylor, have stayed with me all these years.

The violet eyes, translucent skin and raven hair, the self-possessed, poised elegance even as a young child actress--all of these created that stunning impact, not just for me and for my mother, but for legions of fans and followers around the world who adored her for decades, and still do.

Any time I see anything that stands out as remarkably as that picture of Elizabeth Taylor did, I can't help but think of that word, stunning, as my mother whispered it to herself back then, all those years ago.

Even more than that, the image that word represents to me stands out in my visual mind still, as astonishingly beyond the ordinary as it was when I first heard it.

Astonishingly beyond the expected.

Astonishingly beyond the commonplace.

Astonishingly stunning in every way.

I must say, regretfully, that there are few opportunities for any of us to use that word today. I guess that's why so few of us use it.

Few opportunities for any of us to be as enthralled as I was as a 14-year-old boy, as my mother was, as the world was, with that astonishingly stunning face, with that astonishingly stunning reality, with that astonishingly beautiful, so far beyond the ordinary woman, that Elizabeth Taylor was.

But what, you may be asking yourself, does Elizabeth Taylor, stunning though she was, have to do with you, a business leader, an entrepreneur, a student of entrepreneurship, a small business owner?

Well, just about everything, I would suggest.

Steve Jobs knew it.

In everything Steve Jobs did, he reached for stunning.

In everything Steve Jobs thought, he thought, "stunning"--which was to be miraculous, which was to be, well, Apple. His all-consuming vision of the reality of Apple was, in fact, stunning.

Yes, to Steve Jobs, Apple was born to be stunning.

If not that, then what?

And what do you think about every day?

What is your visual picture of your company? Of your people? Of your product or service? Do they achieve the rarified air of stunning? If not stunning, then what?


Look the word up. Join me in pursuing it.

When you do, you will know, too, that anything less than stunning is, well, just "so what?"