Thoughts on Leadership: Beyond the Good or Great

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home. 

Last week, we talked about ideas for leading through shifts in the marketplace (read the post here) and this week, let’s talk about the mindset you need to not just survive but also thrive in a market and economic environment that’s more challenging than it was a few months ago.

If you look up adjectives for “good,” you’ll find words like adequate, satisfactory, agreeable, pleasant. And that’s not what you need to be.

Being adequate in a shifting market will not get you ahead. Having a satisfactory mindset will not help you grow. Producing work that’s agreeable is not going to generate a win – especially not now.

OK, you get it. Being good is not good enough. But what about being great? Going that extra step to become better than good?

Here’s a secret: In this market, even greatness is not enough. Our world is a proliferation of data. The best estimates suggest there’s about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (2.5 with 18 zeros) produced daily. If you’re great, you’ll still struggle to be seen among the 2.5-and-18-zeros-worth of content sent out every day. If you’re great, you’ll still get lost in the sea of social media that’s flooding feeds by the second and can only be traversed successfully with a mindset focused on excellence.

Being excellent is hard. (Hey, if it was easy, everyone would do it.) It requires an exquisite commitment to your daily habits, your Wildly Important Goals and your perpetual improvement, both personally and professionally. It’s waking up before the sunrise, and being first in, last out of your office. It’s reading and listening to everything you possibly can in your field until you know it better than you know your own name.

Only a handful of people ascend to the level of excellence. The reason people don’t is that they either wrongly believe they can’t, or they’re satisfied with being just good or great.

Why keep going when you’re fine with where you’re at?

Because excellence is what this market requires, and not everyone has the appetite or energy for it. One of my mentors, Jim Rohn, once said: “Ambition is at the very core of success and extraordinary achievement. Unlike greed, it’s a powerful, creative and constructive force.”

The other element of a mindset for excellence is that you’ll constantly be hungry for more. Excellence is not a stagnant destination; it is an ever-evolving state of being that changes as the fast-paced market shifts. When excellence is your ultimate goal, the zest for growth is a fire that burns within you. It propels you forward with high performance and extreme productivity, which blazes a brilliant light through the darkness of unending data. That is what a market like this one requires to be heard and to grow.

So, what’s the message? This is good news – or better put, excellent news – for those committed to excellence. It means the people willing to do what it takes will achieve extraordinary gains in the market and those who are not will not. Excellence is not inherited or innate; it is acquired. Famed football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

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