“Very good is kind of the enemy of great. You can mistake it for great. And people don’t get excited about us being very good." Bono [source]
People don’t care waiting as long as it’s great. And they don’t share very good online. When have you ever seen anyone post something like “Wow this video was pretty good, check it out…” If they do, then you stop following them.
We only want great.
Now, don’t mistake starting immediately with what you have as a false start. And don’t let greatness paralyze you from moving. Constant motion forward toward a goal generates momentum toward greatness. Don’t forsake that.
But if you’re striving to be the best and wanting to dominate an industry or a field, you cannot settle for very good.
Here are a few things that make you great:
Fine tune the small details. Is your logo thrown together by a haphazard designer? Or did you use a great designer with an exceptional vision? Does your mission statement ring passion and authenticity, or is it jargon from the cut-and-paste example you got in business school?
Practice the way you wish to perform. If you can’t practice that way, then work until you can. It’s March Madness in the USA, meaning there’s a huge basketball tournament. While shooting free throws in pressure-packed, end-game situations, a player relies on muscle memory to make the free throws. It’s not “ice water in the veins” that keeps a shooter sane and able to hit the big shots. It’s the hours upon hours of repetition, self talk, visualization, and follow-through that nails those free throws. Making 90% of your free throws comes by shooting until the light bulbs burn out in the gym. Not from talent.
Not forcing it, but cultivating it. Greatness must be wooed by discipline, longevity, and long-term thinking. You don’t become great overnight. You perform your songs in bars every night for years. You write blog posts and ship them every week. You practice shaking someone’s hand, looking them in the eyes, and exuding confidence. You present your ideas over and over again until you learn what translates and what doesn’t. Great art (i.e. a product, company, movement) comes by cultivation like a lovely garden on a Spring afternoon. It’s not flung together. It’s planned, thought out, and consistently developed over time.
Choosing to be the best you can be. This is a daily decision based on intuition, destiny, and devotion. Relationships that aren’t dedicated to make one another better, will not be great relationships. Warning: this is not the easy path. This is a road less travelled. One of healthy conflict, confrontation, and valuing of each other. By surrounding yourself with people who desire you to be all that you can be, you are driving a stake in the ground that leads toward greatness.
Learning from everything. Fine tuning, practicing, cultivating, and surrounding yourself with greatness ties into this point. Be a lifelong student. Desire to make great things. Read the stories of those who have gone before you. Ask questions. Seek answers. Be curious. Analyze your successes and defeats. Faithfully be introspective in a way that propels you down the path you’re on.
Very good is the enemy of great. Strive to be very good, then press yourself to go further toward the higher goal.
(photo via dominiqueb)