Monday, October 10, 2011

Good is the Enemy of Great

In rereading Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, I was struck by the opening chapter on that very topic and the simple difference between the two.

Good is easy.  Good is what most people do.  The path of good is paved with our intention of doing all we can for all the people we can.  It is paved with many interesting tasks to put our time into,  often doing what we enjoy or what makes us feel valued.  Being the chair of this committee and a member of that association and part of this league, which there is nothing wrong with, but when I see people get caught up in this mostly I see people who end up busy and wonder why they can't be great in anything.  Busying our lives pursuing so many different avenues often makes us feel tired and frazzled and not very intentional at all.  It  is really hard to give your all to something if you give your little to everything.

In thinking about the difference between good and great, the word intentional strikes me as the key to discovering how to move into the realm so many wish for, and what so few plan for: Greatness.  Greatness doesn't come in doing everything.  Greatness comes in doing fewer things but doing them intentionally. I have a lot of things in my life that I like to do, but I am intentional about the things I spend time on so I can continue to strive to be great.

Greatness is really about focusing on a few priorities and zoning in on the little things.  This morning, as I led my family in our daily book study of  Wooden, a Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and off the Court,  we learned about the simple value of the little things.  On page 64, Wooden tells the story of teaching grown men how to put on socks and tie shoes.  My kids thought that was funny!  Why would he teach them how to put on socks and shoes?  But what John Wooden knew, was that which was hidden in the little things is the intentional effort to be GREAT.   When you pick the priorities in your life and choose to go on a journey to be great as Wooden says, "Success is in the details."

I wasn't always aware that I was making choices that were keeping me good instead of great.  I didn't understand how being intentional about the choices I made and how I spent my time would make a difference.  It wasn't until I started in business with Orrin Woodward that it began to make sense.  The self directed education that I started on, one that included reading and listening and associating with others on the journey to greatness, was when I started to see the path was very different than I thought.

It isn't just that John Wooden cares about the little details, it's that he and the hundreds of others that have achieved greatness in their given fields care about the little details.  They care about being intentional with what they read, listen to, who they associate with and where to put their time and money.  The little details are what matter.  The little details determine the difference between good and great. 

Orrin Woodward( lives his life being intentional about the little details.  Every hour of his day is carefully crafted to be lived toward achieving his purpose.  Every book he reads is toward his purpose, who he associates with and what he allows himself to listen to all matter as I watch him intentionally pursue greatness by pursuing his purpose.   By watching and learning from him, I have begun to understand what it will take in my life to begin to live toward greatness.

I have a long way to go, but  every day I am intentional about the little things in my life.  What I read, listen to, who I associate with and what goes into every hour of my day.  Being on the  journey to greatness will always be better than being a part of the plethora of good.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Marc for your insight. Some people including myself have joined many committees and other groups to feel more important. But we do this at the expense of being great because we spread ourselves too thin.