Are you familiar with the concept of good versus great? There’s a classic book by Jim Collins on the subject that was quite possibly the first “personal development” book I ever read, as it was a requirement in my first semester of grad school. It centers around how sad it is that most Americans never live a truly great life, because it’s just so easy to settle for a good life. In other words, good is the enemy of great.
Have you ever stopped to think about that? I would venture to guess that most everyone reading this today could easily classify themselves as living a good life. In America and the entire Western society, we have so many luxuries, comforts, and opportunities compared to the rest of the world, that most of us could look around and quickly agree that we do lead a good life. Family, friends, job, car, roof over our head…yep…life is good. There’s another word for “good” that we hear and use quite often: “fine.” I’m fine. Everything’s fine. The word “fine” is described in the dictionary as “in a comfortable condition,” and the synonyms listed for it are “alright” and “okay.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t get too excited about anything that’s described as comfortable, alright, and okay, especially if we’re talking about how we live life itself. The word “great,” on the other hand, is defined as, “significant, exceptional, extreme, large.” Which sounds more appealing to you: good or great? Do you want to live your life in the land of great? Or do you want to stay stuck in good? The choice is ours every single day.
Last week we talked about the price of our freedom as entrepreneurs or dream-chasers: self-discipline, time management, and work ethic. As men & women who are stretched in so many different directions today, I’d like to suggest one other life skill that will help make the difference between good and great. The skill is proactive planning. Sadly, just the mention of it can bring a fresh rush of guilt to the surface of our emotions as we roll our eyes and think of all the consequences we’ve seen in our own lives due to a lack of proactive planning. Can you believe we’re already 75% through 2019?!? We’ll blink and the year will be gone. With a full schedule of family activities heaped on top of your business goals and other responsibilities, it’s so important to be diligent about proactive planning right now. What is your gut telling you that needs to happen over the next few months in your business and your life? What do you need to accomplish during the final quarter of this year to give you a healthy attitude results that you’re proud of? And how can you incorporate that into your family schedule so that you can spend the much-desired time with them that you deserve?
In the past two years, we’ve made an international move, renovated ahouse, started two new companies and two new non-profits, so time-management, proactiveplanning, and self-discipline have taken on entirely new meaning in my world.It’s more fun and rewarding than I ever could have imagined, but it can beextremely tempting to slip into that “too busy” mentality…either too busyworking to spend time on proper self-care, or too busy managing the madness tomake actual progress. So, several times per day I have to take a stepback and remind myself of the bigger picture. Do I want to be a great mom andspend hours pouring into the life of my son while he’s at such animpressionable age? Yes! Do I want to stretch to reach my own personal andprofessional goals? Yes. Do I want to spend time with my husband andsupport him in his ventures? Yes! Do I want to embrace the opportunity to helpothers around me create a life of their dreams by equipping them to besuccessful? Yes! And would it be fun just to lay in the sun with my eyes closedevery now and then? YES!!!
How about you?!? Does your laundry list of desires seem to pull you in a thousand different directions like mine does? So, what are we to do about it? Are we just forced to pick one and let the rest fall by the wayside? I don’t think so. I don’t know about you, but I have absolutely no intention of settling for that. There’s a line in a song I used to love, “I ain’t settling for anything less than everything!” But again, “everything” does have a price-tag: proactive planning, self-discipline, work ethic and time management. I get up early and I guard my time like a bodyguard. I’ve learned to say no, and I’ve learned to block out guilt trips and other people’s expectations. The life I want to lead requires immense effort, and some days it’s dang hard! I know that yours is too, and I say all of this to encourage you. Why not sit down today and make an actual list of all the things you want to do and be and how you want your family and business to fit in? Then prioritize them in order of importance and even create an “implementation schedule” for how you’re going to make sure that those desires become part of your everyday reality. This one simple activity that I’m suggesting could make all the difference in the world in whether you live the life of your dreams or just keep dreaming it.
To truly live the life of our dreams—and give it to our families—wemust be willing to pay a price higher than others will ever know about. Andno one else can pay the price for us. We can look to our spouses, parents, and friends,and wonder why they’re not having to “sacrifice” as much as we are. But, as theone with the dream, we must be the calm in the storm, the glue that holds itall together. Is it a lot to ask? Yes. Is it too much to ask? Only you candecide. Would it be easier to let it allgo and just let the rat race take over? Of course! But I’m choosing to swimagainst the current instead of letting it sweep me down the river, and I hopeyou are too. Too often we settle for mediocrity when we are capable ofexcellence. Remember, you are only one decision away from the person youwant to be. And we can all “make” the decision to live in excellence. But it’sthe ones who choose to manage that decision daily that will live in a caliberof excellence that everyone else only dreams about.
The distance between a good life and a great life is only separatedby one critical inch. And it’s that “critical inch” mentality that makes allthe difference in the world. Most people will never get it, and that’s OK. It’snot a matter of right and wrong…it’s a matter of good or great. Let’stake a deep breath, inhale that critical inch, take a flying leap out of good,skid across the line into the land of great, and never look back!