It is my belief that more often than not, the difference between mediocrity and excellence is vision and courage …
It has been said that what separates humans from all other species on the planet is their ability to dream. I would add that it is our ability to act on those dreams that further separates us from the other species with which we share this globe. At one point in our history, we also shared the planet with several other hominid species like Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis. Even though they were much stronger and in fact, had a larger brain than us, we survived while they fell into that dark void called extinction. Many believe that it was our ability to think forward and to look ahead that allowed us to flourish.
Let’s think about that for a minute and apply this thinking to corporate success and failure. Why is it that some huge companies fail or become extinct? Despite the fact that they have great engineering capacity, global delivery mechanisms and seemingly boundless financial resources, they somehow manage to be swallowed up by newer and much smaller competition. I believe the reason is simple. They lose sight of their original vision and perhaps even more importantly, they lose the courage and the will to act. They become an institution wrapped up in policy and procedure that is self-serving. The customer is forgotten, employees become disenchanted by the lack of vision and leadership and the clock begins to tick. In an effort to regain lost ground and return to profitability, the company decides to cut back the very structure that once made it great. They call it downsizing and many of you that read this have experienced it. In my estimation, the greatest shame in all of this is the lack of courage at the top of these dying companies because in the final analysis, it is only the top that can affect change. It is the top that must drive the vision, but often, the leaders of these failing giants do all they can to appease the shareholder and protect their jobs. In the end, the company fails.
Personally, I find it offensive to settle for mediocrity when excellence is within your grasp.
Conversely, companies that are driven by strong leadership and have an articulated vision usually rise to the top. They thrive; their employees flourish and are productive. Some may mistake their great self-confidence as arrogance but they really don’t care because they are on a mission to be the best that they can be and committed to delivering excellence at every turn. They have mottoes like “shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll end up in the stars.” Against a sea of gray called mediocrity, they stand apart, like brightly shining beacons. They are classic examples of the entrepreneurial spirit at its best.
I am not suggesting that vision and an insatiable thirst for excellence are guarantees for success. There are no such guarantees to be had. However, vision, courage and integrity will always separate an individual or a company from the rest of the field and it is that separation that more often than not gives individuals and companies the winning edge.
This is what I believe.