How rapidly can you move from good to great?
“You are great! Really, you are fabulous!” my new client enthused loudly.
“Thank you!” I replied equally enthusiastic but thinking that the last time my head swelled like this was when I collided with a field hockey stick, many years ago.
It’s not like I had not heard this comment before, but this time it was coming from a man who had approached me via the internet. He had read my profile on LinkedIn and thought I could help him with a problem he was having.
Listening to his problem, I was able to give him a practical, implementable solution after just twenty minutes of conversation.
Hey, I’m a Learning Solutions Specialist! That’s what I’m supposed to be able to do!
But back on earth, I started to ask myself: Am I really great? And if the answer was “yes” how did I become great? What makes the great great? Is there a process you can follow to become great? How do you recognize great?
Reflecting on these questions, I decided to write about moving from good to great. Not only to help you, but to bring clarity and structure to what I may have done in a roundabout way.
But first, my good to great story…
It started long before this but I want you to pick it up at the point where I decided to become a full-time consultant/trainer in 2001.
If you know yuh girl, she decided that right out the gates she wanted to be a top drawer consultant. Being good or average never cuts it for me.
So I opened a spread sheet and the research began. I checked out those high-profile persons who was doing what I wanted to do and had branded themselves “guru”.
Pretty soon I had identified 17 qualities that they had in common which set them apart. I added 8 of my own, including knowledge of the consulting industry, which brought them to 25.
Then it was my turn to be analysed. Wha loss man! (Barbadian expression) Of these 25 attributes I had 7. If I was going to move from good to great, I had some work to do and I needed help…
14 months later, I had reduced the list to 2 and even now I am still struggling with marketing myself and I’m not comfortable with joint ventures.
These apart, did I move from good to great?
You bet I did! But not in the way I expected…
You see, in taking this comparative and competitive approach, I learnt that being great had little to do with how I lined up with the “apparent” greats.
It had much to do with how I have come to define great. I now define great as the ability to continuously work at becoming better than your best self.
In this way, great is not a destination it is a process. It’s a roller coaster journey with wins on the highs as well as on the lows. It’s about self-discovery that leads to self-mastery. It’s about doing what you love and loving what you do.
So, can you really reduce that journey into 5 steps? Well I did. Just for you. And here they are:
Decide to be great
Yes…you have to! It won’t happen by your sitting and wishing for it.
Many people flirt with “being great” and may even become engaged to it. However, when they realise what is involved, they quickly seek out an affair with her less demanding distant cousin, “being good.”
You see, being great requires consistently high standards, uncompromising commitment to continuous learning and honest hard work.
Add to this controlling your mental and emotional states, communicating clearly and effectively and having love and enthusiasm for what you do.
Even then, you’re still only scratching the surface.
So decide on your standard for greatness and determine how far away you are from that standard.
Be brutally honest now! I was…even though I went down the long road on one side and had to come all the way back up on the other side.
Then you’re going to figure out and take that first baby step on your journey from good to great.
Jump straight to #5 if you want more advice on this.
Commit to continuous learning
I know. You’re thinking that this is so passé.
But what separates those who are merely good from those who are truly great is the learning process.
It’s not just about learning something new every day and patting yourself on your back. Great people know “how to learn”.
For example, ever so often, I list my 5 top skills, that is, those skills where I have superior knowledge and experience. Then I list 3 where I am only competent. And finally, I make a list of what I need to learn to do what I do better.
Beginning with my strongest skill, I go in search of what new I can learn and from whom, to improve that skill. That’s because I know that however much I think I know, there is always something I don’t know.
Why do I approach learning this way?
Because I rely on my strongest skills to come up with the best solutions for my clients, honing them not only takes me from good to great, it does the same for my income.
Learning in this way also requires me to control my mental and emotional states since I dare not allow myself to get caught up in the “this ain’t me and I don’t like this!” attitude trap.
So, go on…commit yourself to continuous learning. It’s a critical step on your journey from good to great.
Speaking of your mental and emotional state…
Learn to control your mental and emotional states
A colleague of mine once explained to me why my ladylike behavior didn’t cut it.
According to her, it was unnatural, unexpected and made people uncomfortable. Her capacity to fly off the handle, cuss out people and be generally rude and boorish was more acceptable because it was what people expected.
Say what? If she’s right then we are in a sad place.
What separates the good from the great is that great people understand that failing to control your mental and emotional states results in poor performance.
If you believe that it’s your fundamental right to have a persistent mental state of ennui, resignation or “angry at life” you won’t even achieve “good” far less “great”.
As a matter of fact, you will constantly find yourself cutting off the limb you’re sitting or biting the hand that feeds you.
Controlling your emotional and mental states starts with self-discipline which helps to strengthen your resolve to resist the easy way and other temptations in their many inviting forms.
Understand that “great” requires you to control your mental and emotional states and not the other way around.
So get to work taking control of your life and move yourself rapidly forward to the ultimate destination of “great”.
Know how, when and where to ask for help
All my life, in my circles, I was the one that had the information that everybody wanted. Not because I was brighter, but because of a voracious appetite for knowledge backed by an incredible focus on learning.
All my life, I watched my friends suffer and sometimes be prepared to fail before they would ask me to help. Most times they did not know how to ask and others, they just waited until it was too late.
Great people know that the best time to ask for help is the minute you discover that you need it. Then you begin by asking those around you. If you’re surrounded by the right people, you will have to look no further.
In asking, you have to provide sufficient information about the problem or issue so that the person can understand it and advise you appropriately.
If you can’t “humble” yourself and expose your weaknesses so you can get some help, your journey from good to great will be so much longer and harder.
Now…get out of your own way, lessen the load by asking for help and I promise you your journey will be faster and much more exciting.
Yeah…take action. But take the right type of action.
The right type of action will move you forward towards that one thing, that one goal that you want to achieve.
And you need to know the difference between taking action and engaging in what I call "distracting activities".
A few years ago, a friend of mine had what I thought was an excellent business idea.
He researched the market, formed a company, researched the market some more, sourced the products he would need, ordered a website and then repeated all this about 3 times.
These were mere distracting activities. What he needed to do was to go out and get at least 3 contracts, deliver on these and rinse and repeat these actions. These would have moved him forward. With the rest, he was simply spinning top in mud.
At the same time, I had a great business idea too.
I researched the market, borrowed the money, started the business, kept it open for 3 years, closed it down when unexpected problems surfaced and my friend was still researching the market.
I took action towards my goal. Even as I risked and experienced failure, that was better than just engaging in activities.
So, on your journey from good to great, take action that takes you towards your goal.
Work seriously, focus intently, hustle hard. However you do it, take action because taking action is how you make things happen. Even when the results are not what you expect, the lessons are invaluable.
By now you can agree with me that moving from good to great is not about the destination, it’s about the journey and you can do it using my 5 powerful steps.
Here they are again:
- Decide to be great
- Commit to continuous learning
- Control your mental and emotional states
- Know how, when and where to ask for help
- Take action
Now I want you to take these 5 action steps and use them to move rapidly from good to great. Promise?