From merely good to truly great, in 5 steps

Posted in Careers, Mentor Minute

From merely good to truly great, in 5 steps

Globe and Mail Careers Section, C2, Wednesday October 17, 2007

Mentor Minute: Quick career Advice from Expert Katie Bennett

I am good at what I do and I am determined to be great at what I do. But I’m not sure what it takes to be great. What do I need to know to get me from “Good to Great?

The Advice

Management researcher Jim Collins said it so well in his book Good to Great: Why come Companies Make the Leap and other Don’t: “Good is the enemy of great.”

But what does “great” really mean? What is great for you may be very different than what is great for me. So how do you tackle a question like this? The only starting point, no matter who you are or what you are up to, is to define what “great” is for you.

Take the time to answer the questions “What is my bigger game? What is my definition of a great career? Being a great leader? Having a great life? “

There are five concrete things you can do to get you from good to great. They are:

Do what you love. Do you think Tiger Woods would be as great as he is if he wasn’t passionate about golf? Sit down and make a list of all the things in life you love no matter what they are; the list should contain things you love at work, things you love recreationally, things you love to read about and do – even

something as simple as loving coffee can be important. This list may seem random and disconnected, but this is the first step in the path to greatness.

Tap into your strengths. If its greatness you’re after, don’t waste your time with what you are merely “pretty good” at. If you don’t know what your strengths are, you can start by asking your boss, peers or friends what they see in you that you excel at. Take notes around what they say. Pay attention to the things that come easily to you, that people consistently compliment you on, and that you do with ease.

Now, put the two lists together. Let’s say you love all kinds of sports. Let’s also say that you’re great at sales – sales is something that comes naturally and you excel at. If you pursue a job such as being a sales rep for a sporting company, you have a far better chance at greatness, than if you are a sales rep in an industry that you have no or little inherent interest in.

Create a “mastermind team”. This is a group of individuals who come together to support each other toward a common goal. To do this, find a group of people who are pursuing a shared goal, and meet several times a month to challenge each other, support each other and hold one another accountable to what you want to achieve.

Get committed. No one ever completed a marathon by going out for a few runs and then sitting on the couch. Decide what it is you want, create a plan to get there and then commit yourself to it. There is no wiggle room in the pursuit of greatness.

Take action and take risks. It is one thing to identify what you want to be great at and another to act on it. It takes courage and it takes action. You have to dare to be great.

Katie Bennett is head coach of Double Black Diamond Coaching in Vancouver

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