There have been too many seasons in my life when I settled for the good at the expense of the great. It’s happened when I was too comfortable with life, my job and my organization, and the result has been something far less than what I’m capable of. In those moments, a lack of self-discipline and the absence of a personal growth plan created conditions where ruts and bad habits flourished.
Several years ago, I struggled with a prolonged period of complacency. Soon after the completion of a major project at work, and despite my best efforts to avoid it, I rested on the laurels of past success. Partly the result of burnout and partly due to a letdown from the “high” of a great accomplishment, good-enough work took the place of really great work.
It didn’t happen suddenly. Instead, a series of small compromises gave way to a habit of mediocrity. The difference between good and great was so slight that many didn’t even notice the change. For some friends and team members, good-enough living has always been standard operating procedure. These folks were satisfied with less effort and vision, and a lesser result.
After two years of vapid work, it dawned on me that I couldn’t go on this way. When the great is within reach and possible, the good just isn’t good enough.
Recognize that habits can progress in both good and bad directions. When you make future-focused choices, you build growth habits that lead to breakthrough results. When you make comfortable choices, you tend to reinforce habits that lead to apathy, complacency and mediocrity.
So how do we combat the slide toward good-enough living? Jim Collins wrote that:
Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.
The simple answer is that great living starts with a decision to live intentionally. Make the decision to shift gears from good to great in every area of your life:
- Spiritually – Glorify God in everything you do.
- Financially – Save for your future and eschew materialism.
- Intellectually – Learn something new every day.
- Physically – Exercise your mind and body regularly.
- Personally – Set personal goals daily and weekly.
- Professionally – Grow in your professional skills and knowledge.
- Organizationally – Give your best work every day.
So what’s the Big Idea?
Don’t settle for the good at the expense of the great. Make the decision to shift gears from good to great in every area of your life.