“Good is the enemy of great.”
These are the six words that Jim Collins uses to kick off his fantastic book, Good to Great (which, by the way, you’ve just got to read if you haven’t already). Of course he spends the next couple hundred pages diving into what that statement really means and how it gets fleshed out, especially in business, but for me, those first six words alone were worth the price of admission.
I don’t know about you, but that ongoing, tooth-and-nail struggle between “good” and “great” characterizes so much of my own life. So much so, in fact, that I figured a quick blog entry would be both cathartic for me and hopefully a tad helpful for at least a few of our readers.
A quick side note…
Since this is our first “official” entry, I’ll say up front that our blog will follow the culture of our company — focusing not just on the things we do well in the world of web, media, and the like, but also on the intangibles that matter much more. The deeper passions we carry about life, people, and making a difference that inform and infuse all the rest. We have a whole team of really incredible folks here at Mindflint, and my hope is that you’ll not only learn a few design tricks or social media how-tos, but more than that, that you’ll truly connect with the people behind the page.
So anyhow, this good to great thing. Both as a person and as a businessman, I feel like I’ve been stuck in “good” for a while now. Good company. Good family. Good mood. Good guy. Just maintaining, you know? Trying my darndest to keep the wheels on. Moments of “great” seem to peek through here and there, but when I try to grab those moments, they pop back down and out of reach like a whack a mole. I hate that freakin’ game.
Where does this addiction to “good” come from?
For me, the “good” comes as a natural result of my often unconscious quest to maintain the status quo. Keep life in balance. Make enough money to be comfortable. Don’t be too risky. In fact, I think that’s the kind of “safe” ideology that society pounds into our heads from day one. We’re taught, often by good, well-meaning people, to build our lives around getting a good education, finding a good job, and settling down in the suburbs to live a good, comfortable life (with our kids in a good school district, of course).
I’m certainly not saying that quality education, solid employment, and a nice house in the ‘burbs are bad things. Not at all. I suppose it’s more an issue of focus, of priority, than anything. When a nice, safe life become our ultimate aim, we’re separated from our true selves, and the greatness inside each of us, a greatness that longs to come out, is stifled.
The problem is, living safe lives doesn’t lead to living great lives.
Why do you think so many of us struggle with a perpetual sense of “Come on, there’s got to be more to life than this”? Because through all the white noise, our true hearts are screaming for a revolution. The problem is, the longer we ignore the voice of our deep heart, our true self, the quieter and quieter it gets until, eventually, it’s silenced altogether, and “good” becomes normal. And that’s tragic.
So what’s the solution?
We need to get jolted back to reality. Something that shocks us out of the good lives we’ve created and reminds us of the great things in our hearts, the things that really get our blood flowing.
So start simply: Think of one thing you used to be passionate about, but that’s gotten pushed aside by circumstances and obligations, and boldly (and publicly) resurrect it. Promise someone close to you what you’re going to do with it. You’ll find that as you purposefully take steps to replace the “good” in your life with the “great” that’s been cooped up in your deep heart, your life will take on a totally new dimension. And the world will be a better place for it.