I have read his other books (Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall), so I knew what to expect. It did not disappoint. It was as before, a well researched, well thought out, well presented investigation of the practices demonstrated by successful leaders and their businesses.
The beauty is that the principles outlined are not really that complicated, the key is sticking with them. That was the difference maker. Most of us can manage to stick at something until something happens, something that knocks us off track and then we let go of what we considered non-negotiable. The beauty of reading such a book is that it reminds you that being great is not a chance event, it is achieved by choices, and then maintained by sticking to those choices.
As a Church leader I am reading and thinking about how these principles could work for us. We want to excel, to achieve success in what we do. I have no desire to be mediocre, so I read books like this one to learn from great business leaders, take what I can and put in to practice the elements that fit. To be honest – all of it fits.
‘The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change; the signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.’ ‘Greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance; greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.’ The many concepts discussed all work towards these quotes.
The challenges for me:
1. The 20 Mile March. This is all about consistency. Those performance markers for the journey. It’s not a case of running fast when things are good and doing nothing when times are tougher. It’s about completing the 20 mile march, every day. Q: what do we need to do consistently to continue to make progress?
2. Firing bullets, before firing canonballs. Discover what might work for you without going for broke first time. A bullet causes less damage but provides evidence to the potential of an idea. To be great is about making decisions based not only on creativity but also on the empirical data. Q: what can we learn from what we try?
3. Zoom out, then zoom in. It’s not so much about should we change things but about being vigilant to sense changing conditions. Great leaders can do this as fast or as slow as is necessary due to the fact they have a handle on conditions. Q: do we have a sense of the conditions, the times that we are in?
4. The SMaC idea. Specific, Methodical and Consistent. They are the ‘operating code for turning strategic concepts into reality, practices more enduring than mere tactics’. It’s those things that we work hard to never change, or rarely if we must. The values that underpin what we do. Q: what are the key aspects of what we do that will never change? The expression of them might change but as a value they will not.
I would recommend this book as an excellent read for any leader. The overriding theme – do we abandon our values the moment good times or bad times come our way? If the answer is yes, then we are less likely to become great. ‘It’s not just about what happens to us but what we create, what we do and how well we do it’. Don’t know about you but I want to learn from wherever I can to be better equipped to lead God’s church – this book will do that. Get your copy here
[If you have read it, share your thoughts]