How 'Good to Great'​ got me looking at my own path to success

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Jim Collins talks talks about the transition from good to great as a black box. Everyone knows what a good company looks like, and everyone knows what a great company looks like, but until Jim got curious about it, no one had thought to look at the transition.

In my latest reading of ‘Good to Great’ that first chapter, when he talks about that curiosity, really caught my attention. I know where I’ve come from, as a young kid at 14 looking for a job, and I can remember my successes across a variety of industries, but I’ve never really thought of the transition – my ‘black box.’

Taking a look into my black box

So, I sat down and tried to trace back through the trajectory of my life to see if I could pinpoint the steps along the way.

I was raised with a good work ethic, which has been at least one of the keys to my success. But that doesn’t help me as a business coach – I can’t tell someone to go get raised with a great work ethic, can I? So I followed the road further.

My Dad died at a young age, so I had to get a job. At such a young age, I was out there pounding the pavement looking for that first job with absolutely nothing on my resume. I got myself a job at a restaurant, and dove in head first. It took me a while to get my feet under me, but I was committed and had the energy of youth behind me. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, I began to excel. So, with the idealism of youth behind me, I approached the boss about a raise, and maybe a promotion.

Can you guess what he said?

I don’t remember the exact quote, but it went something like: “What do you mean? You’re a kid. There’s no next.”

So, I gave my two week’s notice and moved on. 

Finding my path to business success

That happened a few times before I realised I was going anywhere as an employee. So, at 22 I started my own business.

And then I started another one, and another one. Over the years, I’ve owned businesses in a variety of industries, tried a lot of things, and learned to fail forward, and somewhere along the way I learned to be dynamic.

I think it was Alden Mills’ Unstoppable (but correct me if I’m wrong) where the author talks about Navy SEAL training. About half the SEALs were given the same task to train in, while the other half were trained in a wide variety of skills. The ones who were given the focused training felt very satisfied as they saw their skills grow, while the ones who were given constantly rotating training felt deflated. But, in the field, you need the deep skill-set varied training gives you. 

It was my drive, work ethic, and youth that pushed me through so many industries. So, when I felt down, pushing my way through learning yet another new skill, I leaned on those three things. 

My road for your success

Now, you don’t need to be a young idealist to gain that deep chest of tools I credit for my success. What you will need, if you don’t have that, is the work ethic and drive/vision to make up for it.

That was my biggest takeaway from my reading of ‘Good to Great.’ Next up, I’m going to read the ‘Happiness advantage’ by Shawn Achor, which was recommended to me by Darren B.

My Next Book: The Happiness Advantage

According to Shawn Achor, everything we think we know about success is backwards: it's happiness that will lead you to succeed in whatever you are doing, and not success that will lead you to happiness. We can have success without being happy. However, if we are happy we tend to be more successful.  The book is full of useful information that can be used practically. And for me, happiness leads to being more productive and that is key to social support and nurturing relationships that are major happiness factors.

So my question for you all is, do people with the strongest social connections have the highest performance? 

And how does happiness influence the connections in the first place? 

I hope you’ll read along with me.