Several years ago, I walked into a colleague’s office, and I asked him a simple yet profound question, “What are your plans for growth in the coming year?” The year was 2011, and we were in the midst of June, nearing the end of our fiscal year. His initial reaction was one of surprise, as if I had posed an unusual query.
He had been tirelessly working to conclude the current year on a positive note, never pausing to contemplate the possibilities of the “new” year ahead. However, after the initial shock wore off, he returned to me with a response that encapsulates a sentiment all too familiar in today’s dynamic business landscape. He said, “To do better than we did this year—to make progress each and every month.”
At first glance, this goal might appear admirable, but I wish I could wholeheartedly agree. His response echoed the sentiments of many in the modern marketplace, where uncertainty often pushes us to settle for the status quo with a slight improvement.
While this response is understandable, it’s also fraught with danger. When individuals or businesses cease to strive for greatness, they inadvertently establish mediocrity as the standard, and too often, they don’t even attain that.
Certainly, we must be pragmatic and consider the realities of today’s rapidly changing market. I’m not advocating for recklessness or undue risk-taking. However, becoming excessively consumed by anxiety over factors beyond our control can paralyze us. We become so afraid of making the wrong move that we end up making none at all. This isn’t management; it’s cowardice.
As business owners and managers, we have a duty that extends beyond the mere execution of tasks. We must demand more of ourselves and our teams than the bare minimum of “doing your job.”
In a recent study on employee motivation, it was found that a significant number of respondents ranked “being a part of something great or something that matters” higher than monetary considerations. In fact, many were willing to volunteer extra time if the cause was deemed “great.”
If greatness can serve as a motivating force for employees, who are undeniably one of the most critical components of any business, then it’s worth contemplating what mediocrity achieves. I’m confident you can surmise the answer to that question.
So, I encourage you to take a step back from the day-to-day concerns and responsibilities of your profession and, even if only for a brief moment, ponder this question: “What great thing can we accomplish this year?”
I assure you that this perspective shift will not only help you channel your efforts toward greatness but also uplift your spirits in a time when we need inspiration more than ever.