Don’t Let Good Get in the Way of Great
Most of us are total wimps. We lie to ourselves. We settle. We don’t chase the things we know are meaningful. We mask our insecurity with a thin veil of bullshit confidence. We talk a lot, but our actions leave much to be desired. We rarely follow through on the things we know are important. Instead, we run around filling our lives with distractions that keep us busy and occupied. Many of us rarely move the needle forward on the things that truly matter.
If I asked you right now to clearly outline what greatness looks like for your future…would you be able to do it? This is what we call the “Magic Wand Scenario”. Often with clients, we help them define what success looks like. This requires that we gain clarity on their desired future state in areas like career, family, lifestyle, health & wellness, finances, etc... This is basically a way of highlighting and putting tangibility to something that’s often nebulous and abstract. Before you can chase greatness…it helps to know what greatness looks like.
A palliative nurse named Bronnie Ware recorded the most common regrets of the dying. She put her findings in a book called, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.” A condensed article can be found here. The most common regret was people wishing they’d had the courage to live a life true to one’s self, not the life others expected of them. Wow…living a life true to one’s self. Imagine that. That’s the #1 regret she heard from people literally before they died, from people who had nothing to lose, and no more time to do anything about it. The other regrets were (in order):
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Notice the theme. Nobody mentioned wishing they had bought a nicer car, worked more, or delayed fulfilling their dreams and passions. Sadly, it takes many of us getting sick, having a death in the family, or some other shock to the system to wake us up. Even then, over time, we slowly and seamlessly slip back into old patterns of behavior. We’re all guilty at times. It’s ok to want nice things, and not everyone has the immediate ability to find or create their dream job at the drop of a hat. That’s not the point though.
The point is that many of us don’t even know what our own version of greatness is anymore. And even if we do know what our “magic wand scenario” is, we’re often too scared, too fragile or too full of excuses to chase after it. Instead, we settle and conform. As humans, we’re really good at lying to ourselves. We’re excellent liars and we often don’t follow through. We procrastinate. We avoid discomfort and make excuses. We build walls to protect ourselves. We say we’ll get to things tomorrow, and then tomorrow slips away…again.
A great example comes from entrepreneur and powerlifter Mark “Smelly” Bell in the video “Lifting & Life: Follow Through”. He takes a very strong position and uses passionate language to convey his point…all of which I appreciate. The first 2 minutes are pretty powerful, and do a great job of capturing the essence of what Im trying to convey. (Note — watch for profanity if you’re at work or with your kids).
In a nutshell, too many of us settle for “Good Enough”. A good enough job. A good enough relationship. What I’ve found is that good enough is the nemesis to greatness. Good enough is like kryptonite to greatness. It puts shackles on greatness and stuffs it in a shoebox in the corner of the closet to collect dust and cobwebs. Good enough breeds complacency. Good enough gives us just enough nourishment to sedate our hunger for greatness. Good enough is a sedative that numbs our hearts and minds.
Good enough is a sneaky son-of-a-bitch too. It moves quietly and slowly. It creeps into our lives, often unnoticed, until one day you lift your head up and don’t recognize where you are. How the hell did I end up here? Or worse yet…you don’t recognize WHO you are.
If it were up to me, I’d kick good enough in the ass! One of my core motivations in life is to rid the world of mediocrity and complacency. The only way to do so is to help people strive for greatness. I’ve dedicated the last decade of my life helping individuals, teams and organizations to maximize their full potential. My mission has been to cultivate leaders, teams, and organizations that fuel innovation, engagement, and productivity.
I believe that organizations are at the epicenter of social change, and by creating positive shifts within organizations, we create ripple effects that have profound and lasting impacts on society-at-large. Ridding the world of mediocrity and complacency is no small task. But it’s my version of greatness.
As a consultant, advisor, and executive coach, I’ve been blessed to get direct access to the engine room and backstage of all kinds of organizations. Our team at Better Faster Further has worked with the tech darlings of Silicon Valley, universities, hospitals, construction companies, non-profits, venture capital firms, financial institutions, etc. We’ve seen how the sausage gets made, and it’s not always pretty. In fact, more often than not, it’s surprisingly messy. But life is messy…and that’s ok.
What’s not ok is giving up on your dreams, or settling for “good enough” when you know damn well your version of greatness is somewhere out there. As an individual, nobody can define greatness for you. It’s a journey you must make alone. Don’t end up one of those poor souls stuck in a hospital bed wishing they’d had the courage to live a life true to one’s self…not the life others expected of them. Define your greatness now and chase after it with everything you’ve got.
Tomorrow could be too late!