“It ain’t that great.”
In a world ruled by personal opinions – expressed on everything from YouTube to Yelp – it doesn’t take much to order-up the headstone and doom someone/something to early death. Just let a loon with the leverage of social media express their opinion – well-founded, or embittered – in the right place, and vicious goes viral: “It ain’t that great” can close a restaurant or short-run a movie.
Be willing to be honest: in the 21st Century, no one settles for good anymore. Average deserves the death sentence by consumers who don’t want to waste a dollar on anything short of 5-Star experience. If you only have one life to live… set your sights on great. Anything less-than-great doesn’t deserve the oxygen it sucks to survive, or so it seems…
Jim Collins has risen in the ranks of marketplace mavens through the last two decades. Built to Last put him on the radar, back in 1994; Good to Great put him over-the-top in 2001. His signature life message articulates what it takes to rise above the mere victor class and achieve Olympian status.
Good has become a four-letter-word, no longer worthy of note. To deem someone good is to condemn them to mediocrity. We’ve become a culture willing to settle for nothing short of great.
Who ever sets out to be average? Answer: no one! Since Collins raised the bar, God help the person who circulates at a class reunion without exploits approaching greatness to report. Gold may be the top medal in games, but it’s just the starting point for a culture now consumed with Diamond Platinum status in their elite designations.
Put the hidden camera in the management office where perfunctory performance reviews are enacted. Any position above the lowest-ranks of the org chart will experience a predictable hour-with-the-boss. Reports of good performance will evoke a yawn; expectations of great achievement in the next reporting period will be clear before the meeting ends. Last year’s record output is now the baseline for the future. Be great, or be gone…
Collins has turned greatness into a consulting focus: there are ways for people and for teams to climb to the top if practiced religiously, over long periods. If you’re serious about greatness, prove it.
The debate rages in society: should kids get a trophy for just showing-up? There’s no debate on that subject in the real world: trophies go to the winners, and the world-records in every field are never static. Today’s great is tomorrow’s good… and life – and its expectations – climbs ever-higher.
The race to great isn’t recent. During a commute between venues – while Jesus was on tour – the 12 guys in his entourage got into a tongue-tussle over pecking order: “They came to Capernaum. When he (Jesus) was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” (Mark 9:33-34).
I’ve talked with Christian marketplace leaders, sprinting in their Monday-Friday marathons trying to achieve – and, sustain – greatness in their field, suggesting that greatness in the Kingdom is also worth pursuing. Frequently, I get a response indicting me for abandoning the grace-alone tonic that was brewed in the Reformation. Does salvation by grace alone – a key biblical truth – disallow the serious pursuit of greatness in God’s enterprise?
“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). Jesus didn’t assail the pursuit: he just defined how it could be achieved. Cultural navigation says that the Great are served; Kingdom navigation says that the Great are serving. Professional is good; pro bono is great. Waiting for recognition – until the Great One appears – is the ultimate deferred compensation…