Did you take Latin in high school or college? Unfortunately, I did not – nor did I take Spanish, French or German. My counselors thought it best I focus on English. Decades later, I’m still working on it!
The truth is, I only know one Latin word. If you, like me, missed the cultural and academic advantage of studying this ancient language, you should at least know this one word…
It’s a fantastic word, a very powerful word for leaders. It literally means, “as great as you choose.” Therefore, the implication is, greatness is a choice.
Is greatness really a choice or does it have everything to do with DNA or an Ivy League education? Certainly talent and education can help, but talented people and well-educated people often miss greatness by a mile. Why? They fail to make the right choices.
Jim Collins, the notable leadership and management expert did decades of work studying truly great organizations. He discovered many principles that have transformed organizations across the globe. One of his summary conclusions:
Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.
So how does this translate for you and me as leaders? The choices we make matter!
Who should we hire?
Who should we fire?
What goals should we pursue?
How should we allocate resources?
How should we invest our time?
How much preparation is really required?
What personal disciplines do we embrace?
How will we measure our success?
These and countless other choices chart our course on a daily basis. Are we making the often challenging, decisions that lead to greatness? A good test to apply is to literally ask yourself the following question as you contemplate your next decision - Will this choice put me, or us, on the path to greatness?
Over the course of a lifetime we’ll make an almost infinite number of decisions. Each one moves us closer or further from greatness. Many of these choices we’ll immediately recognize as significant. Others are critical but may not get the attention they deserve.
Let’s close by considering what may be the ultimate choice to determine our “greatness.” It’s falls in the category of the easily overlooked or undervalued.
Dr. Martin Luther King said it like this:
Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.