Are you Average, Good or Excellent? – The effort is the same

This week I asked two of the people I coach at work, “What is the difference between Average, Good and Excellent?”

It’s a leading question, to enable reflection. The answer is varied, but in my view is:

  • Average will get the job done. No complaints, no compliments.
  • Good will take one more step. They will follow-up or ask one more question. What is the real question? or; How can I make it better?
  • Excellent will take an additional three steps. For example asking, what is the real question?; What would I want if I was in that position?; How can I make it better?

Fortunately for many talented, but apathetic, good is not a crowded space. Add time and someone who is good will progress and succeed (as relative a term as can be, like hot or cold).

The pathway for someone who wants to be excellent is clear, always take an additional three steps. If good is not crowded, excellent is sparse indeed. It only takes moments to ask these questions, which then focuses the mind and quality will flow.

The paradox and irony is, that it often takes about the same amount of effort whether you are Average, Good or Excellent. The difference is, that someone who is good and certainly someone who is excellent will front-load the effort, average will chase the result at the end.

If the same activity repeats itself, someone who is good will usually be able to exert less effort. With fewer queries, less rework, more value, less effort. As would someone who is excellent exert less effort, but chances are they are driven and they will be doing other activities in the vacuum (as they will see it). Their three steps more soon become nine (the compound effect), which then becomes CEO (or whatever the pinnacle is). Good is trapped on a linear path, looking with wonder at the exponential… I don’t know what word to use, path is too linear, for those who are excellent, they forge their own… Possibilities? Direction? Opportunities? 

My advice is, that if you are lazy (shouldn’t we all strive for lazy? why is busy an aspiration), at least be good, it’s in your interest. Take that extra step, it will be less work for you and result in a better outcome.

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