• John Patrick Starling

Great to Good

I was a big fan of the Jim Collins business classic "Good to Great" when it first came out in 2001. The title called to me.

I was a few years into business for myself, having left a good position as a vice president at a boutique investment company, and had formed my first management consulting firm - and at the same time, I was in the beginning stages of rolling out a niche content development company.

I was 31 at the time, and I'd always been enthralled by "greatness". Great generals. Great artists. Great musicians. Great athletes. Great business leaders... And, I think without really appreciating it at the time, I'd been truly blessed to always be surrounded by great mentors, whether in the service, at University, as a teacher, or in business. I'd seen greatness first-hand. I'd benefitted from its lessons.

"Greatness" was of great importance to me.

I spent much of my life aspiring to be a great man. A great entrepreneur; a great leader; a great business mind; a great orator; a great advocate for disadvantaged young people; a great poet; teacher; songwriter, and entertainer.  A great father, husband, and friend...

I don't know if I ever became "great" in any of those regards... it's not for me to judge, and I've ceased to care whether I have, or not.

Approaching 50, I don't concern myself with my own greatness anymore.  I'm miles into a journey from "Great to Good" - and happily... there's no turning back. As the old Buddhist principle goes "Once you've seen the dharma, you can't not see the dharma." In other words, once you know what your life is really all about, there's no denying yourself to yourself. And for me... greatness isn't it. Goodness is.

The questions on my mind at the end of each day are more to the order of "have I done some good today?".

Have I helped others achieve the greatness they seek, while standing firmly in (or discovering) the goodness that they are - that I objectively know them to be… even when they sometimes can't see it for themselves?  Did I help them move their thing forward?  Their project. Their company.  Their idea.  Their life - and the lives of the people they lead, and influence.

Most days, the answer is "yes", and that keeps my pillow soft at night, and gets me out of bed the next morning with great hope, of making it another good day.