Greatness is Possible!

In his New York Times Best Selling book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins states, “Greatness is a matter of choice; a discipline.” How each of us defines greatness is as unique as the individual.  But regardless of how you define it, greatness does not happen by chance or by luck. It is a culmination of thoughts, choices, and actions that are in alignment with that idea of greatness.  It is neither unattainable nor impossible. Rather, it is a mindset.

When greatness is your goal, whether in business life, your personal relationships, or your own personal growth, it requires attention priority number one. It is an unwavering commitment to all that is important and little wasted on the minutia. Stating greatness as your goal is a long way from actually achieving it, but if you believe you can make a difference in your own life, why not set greatness as your goal? Here are some strategies to get you on your way:

Identify what greatness means for you. Most people have a different perspective on what they would consider greatness to be – to be the best; to be the biggest; to be the leanest; to be the strongest; to be the richest, etc. Whatever it is you set for yourself, if you don’t first identify it, you’ll never reach it. From there you can lay out a strategy, much like a business plan with a mission statement.

Plan. Plan. Plan. The three most important words in real estate are “location, location, location.” In reaching a goal, the three most important words are “plan, plan, plan.” Too many people wish they would achieve something but never write down a plan for getting there. I see this all too often when people set out to achieve a goal through exercise. Would you go on a trip without having directions?  Does the thought of running a marathon without training sound like a good idea? I didn’t think so. Plan thoroughly and this will be a huge step towards achieving greatness.

Picture the end results. Another New York Times best selling author, Steven Covey, says in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, “begin with the end in mind.” It may go beyond what some people consider to be unorthodox, but how are you to find the motivation performing the day-to-day tasks without envisioning the future? What end results do you want? Be specific and come up with as many as you can. Set smaller benchmarks, little goals, you must hit in order to reach your definition of greatness whatever it may be. Write them down, memorize them, and broadcast them to family, friends, and colleagues.

Make distinction the difference. What separates the great from the rest? They seek to rise above the rest by the quality of their product, service, ability, etc. Nordstrom, Starbucks, Apple Computer, etc. just to name a few. Everything goes toward the goal of making themselves distinct from the run of the mill. That is their mission. And in doing so, they make themselves great! Why can’t you do the same?

Take time to regenerate. It would be hard to argue that a person who rests well can do more in less time than the one who works non-stop. Working towards greatness is hard work and often there will be hurdles and setbacks. Our society today is all about work, work, work, and at what cost?  Are we really achieving greatness or are we burying ourselves too early?  The body needs rest; the mind needs rest; the spirit needs rest. Perhaps you are someone who thrives on little rest, but somewhere along the line, you will fall harder and longer.

Evaluate and re-evaluate the process. Every plan and goal needs an evaluation and re-valuation. This is how you objectively decide whether or not you are proceeding toward your goal or the plan is way off base. The value of this evaluation process can not be cherished enough and it is a critical step in separating those who have achieved greatness and those who have not.  The wheels are either moving forward or backward, and spinning wheels go no where.

Enjoy the ride. To paraphrase an automotive advertising campaign, grab life by the horns for the journey has got to be fun. Besides, what good is achieving greatness if you can’t enjoy it? And enjoy not just the fruit of your labors, but stop along the way and celebrate the victories, both small and large. Greatness is not achieved by everyone, and only those who see the positives amidst the inevitable ups and downs will see it through to conclusion. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”