Our society rewards top performers. Big tech companies steal headlines, pro athletes cover magazines, and top Wall Street earners receive bonuses bigger than their salaries.
But what if you just want a good job that pays well?
What if you don’t want to work 18 hour days to make a ton of money?
What if you want to be able to pay your bills and have enough to save for a comfortable retirement?
Is that okay? Are you normal for wanting to settle?
All of these questions are fair questions.
I have often wrestled with these questions when thinking about starting a side project. Have you thought about making some side money with a hobby of yours?
Would’t you be comfortable with it only bringing in a modest $500/mo? I know I sure as hell would.
Most would fail to call that a successful business. But how do we measure success? Longevity, market share, revenue?
When is it okay to settle and accept not striving for greatness?
If you like to read books about what makes good companies great, then Jim Collin’s Good To Great is a must read. In the book his team studies companies that beat the market 3x over a 15 year run. He looks at comparison companies and finds the similarities and differences that separates a good from great company.
One of the last chapters in the book Jim discusses questions that he is commonly asked. One person attending a talk Jim was giving asked why he should strive for greatness? He claimed to make a good wage, liked what he was doing, and felt that he was good at his job. Why should he go from good to great?
I thought this was exceptionally compelling. Business aside, our interpretation of greatness is relative. Why should we assume that one person’s goal would suit another?
Jim Collin’s answer to this question was a fair response, and one worth commenting on. It can be summed up as:
The real question is not, “Why Greatness?” but “What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?” If you have to ask the question, “Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?” then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.
It would seem that in order to acheive greatness you must be 100% passionate about what you are doing.
I don’t think anyone would argue that getting paid well, having a family life, and having time to enjoy your hobbies isn’t a work life balance that we all want to achieve.
But that can only be accomplished if you are passionate about what you do.
Not everyone has the same idea of what greatness is. If you ask yourself, why be great? Chances are you are not passionate enough about what you are doing, or else become great would be a goal worth striving for.