Recently, I had the opportunity of reading Jim Collin’s book, “Good to Great”. This book was based around a case study that Jim and a very carefully selected group of students put together. The study examined companies that had become “good” or moderately successful, then flourished into becoming “great” or leaders in their specific industry.
Although the concepts detailed in this book apply to running a business, I found it to be a very thought stimulating read, because I could apply what I learned to my present day life, and the life I want to lead going forward. I would like to share some of these concepts with you, in hopes that they resonate with your current situation. I believe that these concepts can help with overcoming daily challenges and obstacles you may come across.
1. First Who….Then What
Number one comes first for a very good reason. Once you have identified the “what” that you want to accomplish, you need the right support system. Whether it is your job, running a marathon, or learning to play the guitar, having friends and family that support your journey will only enhance your productivity. This starts with serious evaluation of the people you spend your time with. The book stresses that before you can “drive the bus” to where it needs to go, you need to get the right people on the bus first. This is obviously an analogy, but it makes so much sense.
For the first time in my life, I started to realize that I couldn’t make everyone happy at all times. I needed to figure out “what” it is I wanted to accomplish, and then who to share this vision with. This involved voluntary social sacrifice, and telling people I usually spend time with “No”. It’s nothing personal; I just don’t believe that being around that certain type of individual helps me become a better person. I didn’t have FOMO and I did not feel like I was missing out on something important. I just know that those people I choose not to be around, don’t take me or my “what” seriously.
Sometimes, certain people can be a negative influence on your life. Or they will force you to do things your not comfortable with or be a different type of person. This lesson helped me to see that the people who drag you down, need to get the hell off of your bus before you start driving it. Replace those people with individuals who have strong character, individuals who believe you can succeed. After that, push the pedal to the metal and start driving towards the “what” that you want to accomplish.
2. Confronting the Brutal Facts
The first concept involved honestly evaluating the people around you, this concept involves being brutally honest with yourself. I saw a tweet recently that said
“I feel like people have become more interested in showing people what they’re doing than actually doing what they’re doing”
This is spot on. When you talk to others, do you tell them that you workout 5 times a week, when it’s really only 2-3? Are you completely honest with the person you are? If you’re not, I don’t believe you will become the person you want to be. Self-awareness is a very underrated trait, it takes a man or woman with true character and grit to honestly evaluate him or her self and say, “I need to, and I will improve”. Nobody is perfect, but I have met people that think they are. I can only hope they confront the fact that, “they are not perfect, and they can improve”, no matter how brutal that might be.
3. Hedgehog Concept
The hedgehog concept comes to life when three important questions are answered together. These three questions are as follows.
1. What are you deeply passionate about?
2. What can you be the best in the world at?
3. What drives your economic engine?
Once again, when these questions are explained in the book “Good to Great” they apply to running a business. Try applying them to your career. Do you know the answer to all three? If so, you are free and clear to apply the hedgehog concept to your life. When you take those three questions into consideration before every decision you make, you are applying the hedgehog concept.
For me, I am passionate about marketing and making clients happy. I feel that if I work on skills that fuel my passion, I could one day be the best in the world at them. Marketing and client services, drives my economic engine because I get paid to do what I love, so I can save for my future family. Jim Collins like to put these three questions into circles and combine then in a triple Venn diagram, the hedgehog concept lies in the middle of the three circles. (See Below)
4. Culture of Discipline
The chapter about Culture of Discipline discusses how a manager should create his team, and train them to think and act with discipline. The word discipline is not used as a punishment in this book, but it's used to describe consistent action of the same principles over and over again. Habit is the result of many small decisions over time. The hedgehog concept helps you determine the actions you need to take, but without showing persistent discipline towards the hedgehog concept, you will not see sustained results.
5. Accelerating the Flywheel
Josh Medcalf has been quoted saying, “The bright lights on the big stage only reveal our work in the dark”. Career breakthroughs from the outside; look spontaneous and sometimes “lucky”. What people don’t realize is that when companies or people turn from good to great, it’s because they have been consistently working their ass off to get there.
Imagine a huge wheel in front of you; you can imagine a glowing circle or the wheel from “The price is right”, doesn’t make a difference to me. If you spin this wheel fast enough, it will eventually hit the “breakthrough point”. The breakthrough point is when you begin to become great at something. For this massive wheel to spin you will need to consistently put forth effort to try and turn it. Little by little, spin-by-spin this wheel will begin to pickup momentum. If you stop, the wheel stops, but if you keep accelerating the wheel it will turn until it hits the “breakthrough point”. The same concept applies to whatever it is you are trying to become. Getting 1% better everyday, will cause the wheel to turn 1% faster everyday until that “breakthrough point” is reached.
1. Surround yourself with good people (Get the right people on the bus before you drive it)
2. Become self-aware of what you are and the changes you want to make
3. Answer the 3 questions, and apply the hedgehog concept to everything you say and do
4. Maintain discipline to applying the hedgehog concept
5. Consistent application of the hedgehog connect will accelerate the momentum of the flywheel. Continue this until you become great at whatever it is you want to be great at
Good luck with your journey, tell us about your Good to Great experiences in the comment section below.
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