Real World

It’s On You To Be Awesome

Quick show of hands: Who wants to be awesome? Ok, that question was easy. I think pretty much everyone wants to be awesome. We all want to be amazing and no one wants to fail.

Tougher question: Who is working on being awesome? Like actively working on it. You know what you want to improve and have a plan to make it happen. I’m guessing a few hands went down.

Last question. Again, a show of hands: Who has done something today, specifically to make you more awesome? Hmmm, a lot of hands stayed down on this one. Answering yes means you know what you want, have a plan, and acted on that plan.

*****     *****     *****

Last weekend, I did an exercise suggested by Bill Cortright. It was simple: list 10 reasons why I am not at the optimal levels of success in the five key areas of life (career, finance, health, relationships, personal / spiritual development).

I recommend giving it a try. Here’s a few things this exercise made me realize:

  1. I don’t know what optimal levels of success looks like in every area. I have very specific targets in some of the areas, but not all. That’s a problem because it’s really, really, really hard to accomplish what I want if I’ve never been bothered to figure out what I want.
  2. My excuses started off strong with good, justifiable reasons why I haven’t accomplished more, but about number five or six in each category, my excuses started running thin. By the time I got to number ten it was painfully obvious that all of my excuses were complete nonsense. Bill Cortright says: Excuses are the ego’s affirmations. Excuses help me feel good about my lack of progress, but don’t do anything to move me forward.
  3. None of the excuses have to do with a lack of knowledge. I may not know everything I need to do, but the amount of knowledge I have or have available will take me a long ways farther than I’ve gone. Derek Sivers once noted: If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs. Knowledge alone does not create change.
  4. Too many of my excuses have to do with my self-identity and belief in whether or not what I want is possible for me to attain.
  5. In 100% of the cases where I’m not where I want to be, I am simply not taking enough regular action.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve worked hard, been blessed, lucky, and created successes in my life. I’m in no way complaining or suggesting I don’t have it pretty good.

BUT. When I look at what I have done and what I want to do, there is a noticeable gap in a few areas. I’m at a six or seven on a ten-point scale, but I want to be at 11.

So, if I want to be awesome, there are only three steps: 1. Get clear on what optimal success looks like for me; 2. create a plan; and 3. take consistent action. As Dan Waldschmidt points out: It’s on you to be awesome. And that’s the key to it all. No one is going to be awesome for me.

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flashback friday: good enough isn’t, but great enough is

[This was originally posted on October 14, 2011]

I’m a big believer in the concept that good enough isn’t. Hitting the bare minimums isn’t success, it’s temporary survival. Sadly, most companies seem to struggle to reach even the level of good enough. They shoot for good enough customer service, good enough prices, good enough hiring policies, good enough management development, good enough training, etc. The problem is that, at the very theoretical best, it will only be good enough. In the real world, a bunch of attempts at good enough added together tends to equal not good enough. Aiming for “good enough” seems to get us to “doesn’t completely suck”.

In fact, I’d like to propose a real world rating scale. Feel free to use it for performance appraisals, evaluating processes, due diligence for investments, whatever you need a rating scale for. Here it is:

  1. Sucks
  2. Doesn’t completely suck
  3. Good enough
  4. Great enough
  5. Phenomenal, but exceeds the point of diminishing returns
On this scale, there is only one rating worth hitting: “Great enough.” Although “Phenomenal” sounds like a good thing, there comes a point in any quality improvement where the costs/effort/resources required for additional improvement become an exponential curve while improvements move along a very flat linear curve. In other words, you’re spending tons of resources for ounces of improvement. This is perfectionism getting in it’s own way.
But, “great enough”… Getting to great enough requires a completely different set of questions, decisions, actions than it takes to be merely good enough. Consider this: getting your life to good enough is easy. You’re probably already there. But what would having a great enough life look like and what would it take to get it there?
How freakin’ cool would it be to work for a company that focused on doing everything great enough? How incredible would it be to know that all your efforts at work were consistently great enough? Who wouldn’t sing the praises of a company that only hired people who were great enough?
I’ll give you tonight to mull it over. Tomorrow morning, what are you going to do to start kicking butt and creating great enough relationships with your friends and family? What are you going to do to create great enough health? To start getting your finances into great enough shape? Come Monday morning, what are you going to do to take your team to great enough? If you’re in HR, what are you going to do to create great enough selection and onboarding processes? To help the managers you serve to become great enough leaders? To create a great enough company culture?
Great enough. Love it!