I don’t want you to live a good life.
I don’t want you to have a good job or a good relationship.
In fact, I don’t even want you to be a good person.
Because good, it turns out, is the enemy of great. Good is the epitome of mediocracy. In fact, too much good can kill your soul.
Before you call me a weirdo who likes to wear goofy glasses (who, me?!), allow me to explain.
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Good is the enemy of great.
– Jim Collins
* * *
“My life is good,” I think to myself every day as I drive to work.
And it is– in fact, it’s damn good. From every outside perspective, I have zero reason to complain.
I have a job that I don’t hate– one that affords me the ability to use my brain, to work with some pretty cool people, and to earn a steady paycheck.
At the age of 27, I own a beautiful home and a little black car and a closet full of clothes (oh, and two super cute dog-children).
Friends: I’ve got them. Family: I have a great one. Guys: There are times when I can’t keep them away from me.
But no matter how good my life is, I just can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t it.
This isn’t the life that is mine; it’s not the life I was built for.
It’s as if I’ve been sitting on the couch my whole life watching a really good TV show– perhaps the best TV show I knew existed– but then waking up one day and realizing that no matter how good it is, well, IT’S STILL JUST A FREAKING TV SHOW.
And HOLY SHIT, maybe I can turn off the TV and get off the couch. Maybe I’m made to live a life that’s so much more than “good”– maybe I’m built to live a life that’s “great.” I mean, even the best HD ain’t got crap on real life.
Most people will look back and realize they did not have a great life… because it’s just so easy to settle for a good life.
– Jim Collins
Do you ever get that feeling too?
This past June, I attended Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit Conference in Portland, Oregon. If you don’t know who Chris is, you really ought to check him out. Chris has the goal of visiting every country in the world by April 7, 2013, and as of today he’s made it to 174/193 countries, kicking ass and taking names along the way.
“If you don’t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life,” says Chris, “someone else will probably end up deciding for you.”
At the conference I met some people who’d found the courage to follow their own versions of great– people like Kim, who’s selling all her crap, quitting her job, and giving it all up to travel the world. People like Joshua, who decided to get rid of– well, 90% of his “stuff,” including his car, his house, and even his six figure job– in order to focus on what was truly meaningful to him. (Read this: “You Are Not Your Khakis: How To Donate 90% Of Your Stuff Without Even Realizing It.”)
Any one of these three could have chosen to settle for the “good” life– they could still be sitting on their couches and watching their lives pass them by. But they aren’t. Instead they’ve chosen to live out their greatness.
We’ve all got our own version of greatness– what’s yours?
Your version may not look the same as Chris’ or Kim’s or Joshua’s– it may not involve traveling the world or quitting your job or getting rid of your crap– and yet whatever it is, it is yours alone to claim.
The one thing standing in your way is just this: In that split second that you drop the “good enough” to reach for the great, your hands will inevitably be empty.
And the truth is, we’re all scared shitless of having empty hands.
We’re so fearful to let go of the “good enough,” because what if we end up with nothing at all?
And yet this is the necessary and the freeing but terrifying truth: that until we are willing to risk it all and to allow ourselves to feel the emptiness of an open palm, our hands will always be too full to reach out and grasp the great.
For those of us who count ourselves among the lucky, the day will come when we no longer feel we have a choice– when the risk of stagnation becomes infinitely greater than the risk of dropping it all.
The day will come when we see that in settling for “good enough,” we are selling ourselves terribly, insanely, ridiculously short.
And perhaps THAT, my friend, is the true risk– that we will never come to know our greatest selves.
* * *
I don’t want you to be a good person.
Nope– I want you to be a great person.
I want you to become the very best version of yourself; that person you were meant to become. I want you to unleash the grandest, most splendid, most insanely amazing display of innate human potential that lies within you.
When it comes to my own life, I’m planning some major changes in 2012– stay tuned.
What about you?
When the year 2012 comes to a close, where is it that you’ll find yourself?
Will you still be settling for the “good enough,” complacently standing by while your potential withers and dies?
Or will you be in pursuit of the great?
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[Image by H.L.I.T]