This is an excerpt from the book “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE” by Tom Peters. I was introduced to this piece of exceptional insight many years ago by one of my mentors who is popularly known by the initials KK. He was conducting a session on Excellence at work and he shared the below article with the audience. The impact of this insightful piece of writing was visible as everyone was able to reflect on their forgotten dreams and being busy managing the daily grind. I urge you to read it and reflect on your own journey and share what you felt.
I cannot begin to tell you how important and practical I think this item is.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I would like to reach out from this page, and shake you, and shout …
You can do this.
To myself, I keep saying …
IF NOT THIS, WHAT?
You take over a department. Twenty-eight people. You aim to make it a “smoothly functioning unit.” As time goes by, and you deal with brush fire after brush fire after brush fire (we all do), your aspiration-in-reality becomes “making it through the day.”
And next thing you know, you’ve indeed “made it through the day”—about 700 times.
And three years have passed. There have been no mutinies. And your annual evaluations have been consistently “pretty damn good.”
But what do you really have to show for … three whole years of your precious life?
Actually, not much. “Competent survival” might be an accurate description.But nobody’s beating down the door to get into your unit.
And you really don’t have one or two … stupendous … accomplishments to brag about or sleep on.
Well, I don’t think that’s good enough.
For you. For the people in your unit.
I beg you … yes, beg … to review the definition-aspiration with which I launched this item.
I beg you … yes, beg … to talk with your peers and your folks and anyone you can buttonhole about … WHAT COULD BE.
I beg you … yes, beg … to “go public” with a doc called, more or less… “Towering Aspirations of Growth and Excellence” ... and then use it as a litmus test against which you judge
…every decision, small or large;
… every project, small or large;
… every people move small or large.
I believe there is a decent chance that, if you get moving ASAP, three years from now you will be able to look back and say
…“Oh my God, we did that…”
”And, yes, people from all over the organization will be hammering on your door, begging (yes, begging) to sign up and become part of your … Greatest Show on Earth.