“Focus on the journey.”
How many times have you and I heard that? The journey is the part that matters the most.
However, despite hearing that over and over again, it is so easy to get focused on the end and forget about the journey, especially when we are looking at others. I know when I see someone achieving something in fitness that I hope to be able to do, or if I see someone in a stage of their career where I hope to be, I won’t think about all the work it took to get there. I just see them as they are – strong and successful – versus who they were – a traveler who had to overcome many obstacles.
In the latest chapter of “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, he dives into the fact great companies and organizations didn’t just get there overnight. Instead, it was a long-time grind, starting with a single push on a flywheel. And then another push. And another. Until it gets spinning faster and faster, carried by its own momentum. This is how greatness is produced.
“Good action, decision by decision, turn by turn of the flywheel – that adds up to sustained and spectacular results,” wrote Collins. “Yet to read media accounts of companies, you might draw an entirely different conclusion. Often, the media does not cover a company until the flywheel is already turning at a thousand rotations per minute. This entirely skews our perception of how such transformations happen, making it seem as if they jumped right to breakthrough as some sort of an overnight metamorphosis.”
In fact, I think the media – which I note I am part of – skews most everything in this sense. I mean in some ways, Campus Rec Magazine does that as well. We showcase rec centers after their massive buildouts and renovations, not during. We do talk about the time it took and the money that was spent; but, I don’t think we can do it justice unless we would follow the process from the very beginning. And I only have so much space to write a story!
Collins used the company of Kimberly-Clark as an example of how media doesn’t report on the transition phase: “It took years to gain enough momentum for the press to openly herald Kimberly-Clark’s shift from good to great. Forbes wrote, ‘When … Kimberly-Clark decided to go head to head against P&G … this magazine predicted disaster. What a dumb idea. As it turns out, it wasn’t a dumb idea. It was a smart idea.’ The amount of time between the two Forbes articles? Twenty-one years.”
So, it turns out one of the keys to greatness is simply time. It’s an organic development process that requires a daily grind for years. Patience and discipline are your two best friends.
I know for me, both personally and professionally, this is a great truth. I get eager to reach goals, to finally get that flywheel spinning fast. However, I can be lazy and not want to put in the hard work to persist in the daily grind. Who wants to push something heavy without much feedback at first? I like to think I could suddenly become wildly successful in all aspects of my life. But, this is a good reminder that greatness takes work.
Whether it’s in your rec center or in your personal life, I hope this blog is a reminder that it takes time to become great. You just need to keep pushing the flywheel along.