Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 171, November 2013 )
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You don't have to like or understand football to appreciate the following point: The New York Giants, twice Super Bowl champions with their current quarterback, are winless in six games, and may be the worst team in football at the moment. They are being booed in their home stadium.
My reading on this is that the Giants have a lot of players good enough to start in their positions, but not good enough to win.
Years ago I wrote one of my favorite books, Good Enough Isn't Enough, which has been translated into Spanish. I liked writing it because I was always amused by semi-serious comments such as, "It's good enough for government work," or "Not bad," or "It will have to do." No organization I ever observed with these attitudes (including the government) ever threatened to be world class and an avatar for others.
I don't want my dentist, or attorney, or doctor telling me, "Well, it's good enough." I don't even want my auto mechanic telling me that. It's not that I want perfection, but I do want the excellent, the superb, the outstanding. I try to create global learning communities that are unrivaled for growth, excitement, and success. I don't claim they're perfect, but they're light years beyond "good enough."
Our lives seem faced with compromises these days. I watched Jay Leno for the first time in ages last night, and his monologue was sophomoric and unfunny. I think he and his writers said, "Well, it's good enough" (perhaps anticipating that he'll soon be leaving the show and ratings don't matter so much any more). You can see the difference in restaurant food and service between "good enough" and "distinguished."
Good enough is not enough, it's usually woefully insufficient, assuming your goal is to succeed and sustain growth, in your personal and professional life. You may have won the Super Bowl in the past, but the past seldom feeds the present.
The pubic school in my town is one of the top two in Rhode Island. But neither is in the top 100 nationally. What seems like something to brag about really isn't. All things are relative.
Good enough isn't enough.
The human condition: You Gotta Wanna
Bob Mager, a thought leader in training, once wrote a booklet subtitled You Really Oughta Wanna. (Analyzing Performance Problems). One of his primary points is that skills and volition are two different things, and you can't treat a skills deficit the same way you'd treat an attitude deficit. (His famous question: Could he do it if his life depended on it?)
I've found that there are three components in performing in any desired manner. There is knowing what to do (and the implied why you're doing it). An example would be to run for a seat on the local school board, or to effectively engage a prospective client.
The second is how to do it. For the school board you would file papers, create promotional literature, appeal to voters, and so on. With the prospect, you would seek to establish a trusting relationship and then gain conceptual agreement on a future project.
The third, however, is volition. You gotta wanna. There has to be a hunger. There has to be an urge to succeed and move forward that outweighs fears, poor ego, and low esteem. If you lose the school board election, it's not the end of the world, and if you don't make a sale to a given prospect, no one is going to shoot at you.
I can show people clearly what to do and why, and I am very effective at teaching the required skills to accomplish it. But in the breach, the performer often finds himself or herself unwilling (not unable) to move forward. They don't pick up the phone, don't ask the provocative question, don't confront poor reasoning, and refuse to promote themselves sufficiently.
So, the school board seat is won by someone else and the sale goes to the competition. The performer may chalk it up to poor skills, or inadequate direction, or even bad luck, but when this happens repeatedly (more than twice) it's most likely about not having the proper volition and drive, and allowing fears to undermine talent.
You gotta wanna or you ain't gonna make it.
Six Figures to Seven for 2014
I was nearly at lunch time in a workshop at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, and I carefully stopped at 11:45 to inform everyone that I was giving an hour and a quarter to find a nearby place for lunch and return by 1, so that we could get in a full afternoon. I asked if there were any questions, and saw only blank faces.
Then a few brave souls mentioned that they could see lunch set up in the hall and that I had promised it in the promotional material and had obviously ordered it.
Then someone said, "So, back at 12:45?"
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