Finding What You’re Best At


I have three questions for you today, campus rec professional:

  1. What are you deeply passionate about?
  2. What can you be the best in the world at?
  3. What drives your economic engine?

Those three questions — and their subsequent answers — form the basis of Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept in his book, “Good to Great.” He shared that once good companies knew the answer to those three questions, they translated that understanding into one simple idea that guided all of their efforts — a.k.a. the Hedgehog Concept – to becoming great.

However, I want to focus on the second question today.

Collins gave an example of Wells Fargo executives and some prying questions they asked themselves in order to propel the company forward: “What can we potentially do better than any other company, and, equally important, what can we not do better than any other company? And if we can’t be the best at it, then why are we doing it at all?”

Understanding what you can be the best at is essential. In fact, Collins said it’s absolutely crucial. “Just because something is your core business — just because you’ve been doing it for years or perhaps even decades — does not necessarily mean that you can be the best in the world at it,” wrote Collins.

He shared often you have to overcome the curse of competence. Just because you’ve been doing something well doesn’t mean you can be the best at it. “The good-to-great companies understood that doing what you are good at will only make you good; focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness,” said Collins.

So what does this mean for you? Well, campus rec professional, it means it’s time to figure out what your department can be best at. Is it serving your students and giving them everything they ask for? Is it building staff – student and professional – that could rule the world some day?

On a more narrow view, what can you be best at in your aquatics program? How about on your fitness floor? What about when it comes to engaging students? There might be a lot of good things you’re doing; but are they holding you back from doing some things really great?

Perhaps it’s time to sit down in your different teams and departments and ask the above three questions. Having a solid, simple idea to guide all your efforts sounds pretty nice to me. And it starts with asking questions to figure out what you’re best at.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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