During the past 20 years I have done hundreds of strategic planning retreats and often times when crafting a vision statement my clients will decide that they should set their BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) to become number one in the world in their field. This sounds really nice, and for a very few organizations it is attainable, but most organizations will never, ever be number one in the world at what they do. And to me, that is absolutely fine.
Yes, you just heard a guy who teaches excellence for living say that it is perfectly acceptable to be slightly above average. The hard truth is, it is insanely difficult to become the world leader at just about anything. It takes massive amounts of work, huge sacrifice, incredible focus and a truckload of grit and persistence. Just take a look at anyone who has achieved the top slot in the world at what they do and you will see someone who has dedicated their entire life to the attainment of true excellence in their field.
A great example that has been used a lot lately is the United States Navy SEALs. I have seen countless articles in recent months about SEAL discipline, SEAL leadership, SEAL dedication and all of the other factors it takes to be an elite Special Operations soldier. Here’s the deal, the reason they call these people “elite” is because very, very, very few people are willing to pay the price necessary to become a Navy SEAL… and the same goes for an organization that wants to become, as one of my clients said in their vision statement, “The intergalactic expert on_______.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I think excellence is, well, excellent. I think that every organization should strive to be the very best they can be. But I also think running an above average business, that is highly profitable, takes great care of their employees, delivers real value to their customers and contributes to their community – is just as excellent.
So don’t stress so much. You don’t have to be the biggest or best in the world, you just need to run a good, solid and sustainably successful business. That is a major accomplishment in and of itself, so be very proud of it.
What are your thoughts?