Put Yourself in the Story
No matter what your beliefs are, I can tell you this. If your story isn’t as meaningful or significant or compelling as you want it to be, you can change it. You can begin writing a new story, one with purpose, beginning today. Don’t settle for being merely a teller of stories about significance. Decide to be the story of significance.
That saying good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem. If we have cracked the code on the question of good to great, we should have something of value to any type of organization. Good schools might become great schools. Good newspapers might become great newspapers. Good churches might become great churches. Good government agencies might become great agencies. And good companies might become great companies. So, I invite you to join me on an intellectual adventure to discover what it takes to turn good into once said, “The best students are those who never quite believe their professors.” True enough. But he also said, “One ought not to reject the data merely because one does not like what the data implies.” I offer everything herein for your thoughtful consideration, not blind acceptance. You’re the judge and jury. Let the evidence speak.
Every time we attribute everything to “Leadership,” we’re no different from people in the 1500s. We’re simply admitting our ignorance. Not that we should become leadership atheists (leadership does matter), but every time we throw our hands up in frustration—reverting back to “Well, the answer must be Leadership!”—we prevent ourselves from gaining deeper, more scientific understanding about what makes great companies tick.
My Successful Journey
In contrast to the very I-centric style of the comparison leaders, we were struck by how the good-to-great leaders didn’t talk about themselves. During interviews with the good-to-great leaders, they’d talk about the company and the contributions of other executives as long as we’d like but would deflect discussion about their own contributions. When pressed to talk about themselves, they’d say things like, “I hope I’m not sounding like a big shot.” Or, “If the board hadn’t picked such great successors, you probably wouldn’t be talking with me today.” Or, “Did I have a lot to do with it? Oh, that sounds so self-serving. I don’t think I can take much credit. We were blessed with marvelous people.” Or, “There are plenty of people in this company who could do my job better than I do.”
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