the curse of good

Posted on Tuesday.7.28.2009



The reason why most people don’t ever achieve greatness is because most people settle for just really, really good. Whatever it is that you like to do or are doing is probably stunted by the fact that you’re really good at it. The fact that you have talent for something can actually be more of a hindrance to your ability to be great at something.

When we get a taste of a lot of success, what it actually does is make us settle for what we’ve got. The desire for ultimate success goes out the window, because some success has already been achieved. Why strive for great when I can have good at my fingertips?

Good is the enemy of great and is why so many things don’t become great,” he said. “We don’t have really great schools because we have good schools. We don’t have great companies because we have so many good ones. And when we look back over a life and see if it is a great one, we don’t see many because it is just so easy to settle for a good one.” – Jim Collins

Here are some questions that I had as I thought about how this applies to anyone as they think about how to lead their life, family, team or company:

  1. What will motivate you to want great over good? Even good comes with hard work, but that means great comes with even harder work. Is there anything (intrinsically or extrinsically) that will get you to work harder? I don’t think it means more hours.
  2. Are there measurements to what you consider to be great? Obviously, not everything in life is measurable. But it’s a lot easier to figure out what you think would make your life or team great, if you knew exactly what that looked like. Create the vision, work towards it. If you have no picture of great and you’re just always working hard, you wouldn’t see great if it hit you in the face.
  3. Is great even the goal? Some people and organizations are fine with good, maybe that’s you. Just because you don’t want greatness doesn’t make good any greater. Even if good is the goal, you’re still settling.

I think everyone can benefit from questioning what’s good in their lives and work and making it great. Otherwise, we’re just hanging around.

Posted in: leadership, vision