Posts Tagged ‘jim collins’

Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great” and “Built to Last,” was speaking before a group of people, and in the last 10 minutes or so of his speech he addressed young emerging leaders. One of the ten things he advised young leaders to do was:

“If you woke tomorrow morning and discovered you inherited $20 million and had discovered you also had terminal disease with 10 years to live, what would be on your stop-doing list?”

The next point Mr. Collins made was “Start your stop-doing list.”

Stephen Covey had written in his book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to begin with the end in mind. You should reflect on what you would have people say about you at your funeral and begin to live out your day working toward becoming that person.

As I am reading through the book “Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom,” one of the meditations suggested focuses on death: “I may die today.” The fact is we all face death one day, but to assume we are given tomorrow leads us to a point of delaying the good we might otherwise do today. If I live with the knowledge that I may die today, the actions I take and the things I do would be far different than if I lived with the notion that I have tomorrow.

Christianity holds the same thought. In the book of James, it says,

Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will got to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

It would seem that all these thoughts around death and the shortness of life would be discouraging. For some it would be. For those who grasp an understanding of our brevity of life on this earth, it motivates them to focus on what is truly important. We would express more gratitude, show more compassion, and live each day to its fullest.

Some might even say, “What’s the point of planning any long-term goals?”  It isn’t that we don’t plan for the future, it is that we live each day to achieve what we see ourselves becoming. If your goal is to be the CEO of a large corporation, you know that it takes daily actions to get there. You don’t put off reading that book one more day. If you goal is to be remembered as a loving spouse, you don’t put off those words of encouragement until tomorrow. If your goal is to be financially free at the age of 40, you don’t put off saving money now to buy that gadget that is the latest and greatest.

Normally, we would not associate death as being a motivator to LIVING life. Yet death’s ability to steal from us our potential for leaving a legacy is not a power I want to ignore. I choose to acknowledge my finite nature and LIVE today doing what will advance my goal of being the person I want to be remembered as.

As I was preparing my breakfast this morning, it dawned on me how many food items we now buy with labels of what is NOT in the product.

“No High Fructose Corn Syrup,” “Unsalted butter,” “Reduced Fat milk,” “Low Sodium bacon”…what does that say about the foods we eat? Now before you go and think I am going to go on a rant about all the bad stuff we eat, just hear me out on this.

We have so far removed ourselves from raw, natural foods that we have to advertise what we are not putting into the products to convince people it is a healthier choice. We do that in our lives as well, don’t we? We put on masks to hide our true genuine self and rarely let people see the real, natural you. Leaders have a tendency to do that far too often.

Great leaders have to learn how to be genuine, to be themselves. While some leaders like to BOAST about what they have (degrees, advanced training, etc., nothing wrong with having those things) or what they have accomplished (record breaking sales, high income, company growth, etc., good track records are good things), there are others who like to boast about their own weaknesses as if that makes them more relatable. What people really want are genuine leaders who don’t have put labels on themselves to convince people of their leadership.

“In contrast to the very I-centric style of comparison leaders, we were struck by how the good-to-great leaders didn’t talk about themselves…It wasn’t just a false modesty. Those who worked with or wrote about the good-to-great leaders continually used words like quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings; and so forth.”

Jim Collins, Good to Great

Jim describe great leaders as having a compelling modesty and unwavering resolve. Great leaders are recognized for who they are naturally not with labels describing what is in them or not. As you continue to grow in your leadership, learn how to be yourself. Lead in such a way as to draw the attention away from yourself to the greater cause which you have chosen to lead. Then you won’t need any labels describing what makes you more like a true leader.

A friend of mine is fond of saying, “I never wanted to be average. Average is the best of the worst, and the lousiest of the best.” Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great, “Good is the enemy of great.”  We have to begin to understand that there are times we have to say “no” to good things so we can say “yes” to great things.

Nature provides an excellent example of this principle. If you were to plant several fruit trees, you have a choice as to the quality and quantity of fruit you want to harvest. If you want the most fruit possible, you would refrain from pruning any of the branches and you would have a larger harvest of smaller fruit lacking the quality of great fruit. However, should you decide you want the biggest and best quality fruit at harvest, you must learn how to prune the trees. By pruning even the good branches, you are able to produce great fruit.

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of a business’s revenue is generated from 20% of its customers. This principle has more applications than just economics. We would probably find that 80% of our income is based on 20% of our overall activity. The key thought is to identify the 20% activity that is producing and focus more time and energy there. To do that, we must begin saying no to things that are taking up the other 80% of our time and energy. Yes, even some good things must go so that we might become great.

When you come across new oppottunities, start listing them out in two columns. Label one column “Good” and the other “Great.” What would make an opportunity good and great is up to you. By writing it out, it may help you visualize what is before you and help you decide what is good and what is great. You may want to talk to your trusted advisors and receive their input on whether something is good or great. Perhaps dipping your foot in the water before jumping all in would be advisable. Begin to look for the difference between good and great.

Successful people know how to say “no” to things that are not part of their core genius and to good things that won’t lead to great things. Your journey to success will be more fulfilling when you are able to focus on the great things.


(Our daily journey of the last 64 days of 2011 is centered on the principles found in Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.” In his book, he encourages his readers to begin teaching others these principles. I would highly recommend that you buy a copy of the book and join us on a journey to a better you.)

“We have ever-expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing,–and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of ‘stop doing’ lists as ‘to do’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sort of extraneous junk.”

Jim Collins, ” Good to Great”

I have often heard that when you want something done, give it to a…oh you heard that one, too. The issue is that the busy person may only be that, busy, not successful. We are on a journey to success, and if we are going to focus on our core genius, delegate what is not at our core, and build a team around us, then we also need to learn to say, “no.”

The greater your level of success, the more attention you will start receiving from all over. We live in a time where people make themselves available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our cell phones have become a hub of instant connectivity. Co-workers, employees, telemarketers, vendors, family members, friends, and complete strangers are all an instant away and can distract you from your core pursuits. It is time to start creating your “stop doing” list.

Once you begin to create a stop-doing list, it is easy to transfer that list into policies. If you have a policy, people tend to treat that differently. You begin to gain respect from others when you are clear about how you will interact. Here are a few personal and business “don’t do” polices that Jack has(p.293-293):

  • I never lend my car to anyone for any reason.
  • I don’t lend money. I am not a bank.
  • I don’t discuss charitable contributions over the phone. Send me something in writing.
  • I don’t give endorsements for books of fiction.
  • I don’t lend my books to other people. They rarely come back, and they are the source of my livelihood, so I don’t lend them out.
  • I don’t do individual counseling or coaching. There is greater leverage in working with a group.
  • I don’t take calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those are writing days.

What are some “stop doing” things you need to have on your list? Start by looking at where you are spending your time and evaluate its worth. If you are spending 2-4 hours responding to email, is that helping you advance you in your core genius? James Malinchak is a professional speaker and trainer. In a recent conference with him, he said that he doesn’t correspond via email. He does, however, respond to EVERY handwritten letter or note he receives. He has learned the value of his time and responding to emails would consume too much of his time. What do you need to put on your “stop doing” list?

Bob Burg has taught a great response to use when people ask you to do something and you want to say no diplomatically and without attaching an excuse. Simply say, “Thank you so much for your kind offer, while it is not something I would pursue, I’m delighted you thought of me.” This response allows you to say no and it is done. This is a lesson all successful people need to learn to maintain control of their time, effort, and energy.

As you learn to say, “no,” you will free yourself from becoming busy doing, doing, doing, and start achieving what you set out to become: successful!


(Our daily journey of the last 64 days of 2011 is centered on the principles found in Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.” In his book, he encourages his readers to begin teaching others these principles. I would highly recommend that you buy a copy of the book and join us on a journey to a better you.)

So you are faithful, full of integrity, and you are available to maximize the benefits from being in a mentoring relationship.  Would others describe you as servant-hearted?  This is the third characteristic I look for in a person I will mentor.

An interesting note, Jim Collins wrote about “Level 5” leaders in his book, Good to Great. He defined this level of leadership as: “…an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.” (p.21)  This “Level 5” leadership was a key factor in helping companies through a transition from good to great.  Collins almost dismissed the notion of even looking at the CEOs as a reason for positive growth and change in a company.  But as the studies continued, this quality of humility combined with an intense will became an important factor.

Humility is often misunderstood.  Many people think humility means you lay down and become a doormat for people to walk all over.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Being humble simply means you have a heart for others’ well-being over your own ego.  You may make decisions for the best interest of the company over your own.

You may not consider this an important quality to look for in a protégé.  You may be inclined to think the better choice would be a person who is highly ambitious to reach new heights in their life in a boastful, arrogant, self-serving way.  I would have to disagree.  I believe strong, humble people go much farther in life than those serving their own wants first.

Choose someone who has the heart of a servant.  You will not only enrich your own life, you will help make a greater impact on the world.

One characteristic of great leaders is selflessness.  Even when great leaders demonstrate passion in what they are doing, they still possess a sense of humility.  They acknowledge their need of others.  They look beyond their own interests to the interest of their company, their organization, their community, their nation, and even their world.  Leaders with a servant’s heart have no problems motivating others to follow after them.

It is interesting to note that humility is one of the characteristics that Jim Collins found in what he calls “level 5” leaders in companies that went from “Good to Great” (the title of his book).  Bob Burg and John David Mann’s book, “The Go-Giver” highlights the “Law of Influence” being, “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first” (p.71).  Great leaders are servants.

My challenge to you as you finish strong this week is to do one thing for someone today for his or her benefit without thought of how you may gain from the action.  Who can you reach out to and serve today?  I would love to hear how you finished strong this week by giving selflessly.