Archive for the ‘Mediocre v Great’ Category

Laugh Track

September 3, 2008

We all make really stupid decisions now and then, and one of the worst things we can do is to take something great and make it worse.

I was watching Aaron Sorkin‘s breakout show Sports Night on DVD the other day.  It was a great show and shame on you America for not supporting it (though if you had we may not have gotten The West Wing, so you’re sort of forgiven).  Yes, it is a half hour comedy, but holy cow who is the one who decided to add a laugh track!?  What a mind-blowingly, horrendous decision that was!  Though it reeks of a decision by committee I imagine there was one person who ultimately made the decision or at least championed it.

I wonder if that person now realizes the mistake they made.  I wonder if they are embarrassed and hide their shame or if they still defend themselves to that voice in their head that accuses them of their crime.  I wonder if that person has strings of success and achievement that somewhat makes up for a bad afternoon, or was this the highlight of their career.

I may be an average guy, but I hope I never do anything that bad.


Expert v Novice

August 13, 2008

One thing that distinguishes the high achiever from the average guy is the ability to anticipate and overcome obstacles.  In his blog Between the Stations Victor Lombardi explores the distinction between those who are experts and over-comers and those who are novices and get stuck in the field of design.  It’s an interesting concept that I believe can be applied to problem solving in other areas as well.

Are you approaching problems and problem solving as an expert or a novice?  How about design?

Click here to see Victor’s post.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

August 6, 2008

Here’s a great example of the difference between average and great.  Most of us have great ideas and I bet lots of people even had this idea.  The difference is that this guy made the effort to take his idea to reality.

And what an idea!!


July 29, 2008

Another of the things that distinguish the mediocre from the high achiever is consistency.  High achievers consistently perform well and perform well consistently.  They frequently reach their goals with positive results and they are regularly pursuing goals that are important to them.

The average person has a long list of projects or goals that they haven’t completed, met or attempted.

It’s been a dream of mine for most of my life to be a writer; not necessarily as a profession but as an accomplishment.  I’ve read a lot about being a writer, I’ve talked to writers, and I’ve read a ton of different kinds of writing.  The main lesson that high achieving writers have for people like me: writers write.

Preparation is important, but it doesn’t make a writer.  Learning the skills of the trade are important but they don’t make a writer.  Knowing the market is important but that doesn’t make a writer.  Writing does.  Nothing else.

So, why haven’t I written?  The short answer is because I didn’t want to enough.  It is hard work to learn to do something new, and if there isn’t any outside motivation prodding me forward I never made it a priority.  I’ll never be a writer unless I consistently risk the fear, the sweat and possible failure that comes with a blank page.

That’s one example.  For the average person there can be many others, usually begun with the words, “I always wanted to…”:

What is it for you?  Lose weight?  Learn to play a musical instrument?  Learn a language?  Start a business?  Acheive a high job performance rating?  Make money?

There may be lots of circumstances keeping you from your dreams.  High achievers find ways to overcome circumstances.  Average people don’t.  One fundamental reason I haven’t met my goals is because I haven’t wanted to bad enough.  That’s a circumstance I can overcome.

I started a blog as a first step.  What is your first step going to be?

Does Steve Jobs Think I’m a Bozo?

July 28, 2008

I just finished the book Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney.  It’s a bit of a fluff job that dismisses a lot of the long held criticisms of Apple CEO Steve Jobs as intentional and strategic ploys, but the point of the book isn’t to psychoanalyze him but to understand his thinking process and how it affects business.  It’s a terrific read and makes a lot of good points, and of course Jobs is one of the great leaders and success stories who has transformed society.  It’s worth checking out.

At the end of each chapter Kahney sums up the strategy of Jobs as a take away for any leader or business person.  It got me thinking about the average guy.  In the chapter titled Elitism he describes efforts to find the best and brightest for Apple.  Of course, this isn’t a new strategy invented by Jobs but he’s done a particularly good job (so to speak) and it’s greatly impacted Apple.  However two particular items stuck out.

First, one of his biggest moves was in 1983 when he brought in John Scully to run Apple alongside Jobs.  At the time Scully was the president of PepsiCo and he had engineered the campaign that unseated Coke as number one for the first time ever.  He was 30 when he was named Vice President at Pepsi and 38 when he was named President.  Yes, he attended very prestigious schools and yes he had some great connections.  But, what kind of guy can go from graduating college to VP at a company like Pepsi in five or six years?  Certainly not the average guy!  That’s someone who is exceptional.

The other point was one of Jobs strategic points: Partner only with A players and fire the bozos.  When you read something like that you tend to think of yourself as the hirer and firer.  I’m only going to hire the best!  Or you might think of yourself as the A player.  In reality most of us are the bozos.  Would it have been fantastic to be a part of the early days of Apple?  Absolutely!  Would I have been able to cut it?  I have my doubts.

I am in the middle of leaving my current job and a part of it is that I was the bozo.  That’s really not a fair representation; I wasn’t really a bozo, just perceived as one.  The circumstances weren’t my fault and my response was very appropriate.  But, if I were really an A player would I be in a position that anyone wants me to leave.  No.

The question I am wrestling with is not how do I become Steve Jobs or John Scully.  Ain’t gonna happen.  I just don’t have the tools.  But, can I move from being a bozo to an A player?  That’s the question.

Mediocre or Great?

May 8, 2008

Pastor Steve Furtick shared this in his blog:

Great leaders always seem to be on the lookout.  What mediocre people consider everyday experiences, they approach as a sort of safari:
Can they spot a new idea to implement while waiting in line at Starbucks?  A good title for that sermon in a series that’s coming up in 3 months while browsing in Borders?  They’ll have a sub-par experience with a waitress at Chili’s, and rather than letting it ruin their day, they take notes and come back and revamp 4 things to improve their own business or ministry based on that bad encounter.

This implies that the difference between mediocre and great is partly an attitude and a mindset.  If that’s true then it is something that can be changed, and if it can be changed then it says that great leaders are made not born.

What do you think?  Is that true?