Water Photography by Tom Libertiny

Swimming | Treading Water

We’ve all had those days:  too much to do.

Instead of taking a step forward, it’s easier to tread water.  Or go hide from the world.  The vast majority of the time, this is a temporary affliction and we generally figure out the next step forward.  Or circumstance kicks us forward whether we want to move or not.

Water Photography by Tom Libertiny

Water
Photograph by Tom Libertiny

But what about the insidious time when we contemplate good enough.

Yes, it’s the easier option.  One that gives us false hope that we are moving forward.  But we’ve seen the business failures that embrace good enough.

K-Mart.  E-Bay.  Amazon.

All retail companies that were once leaders in innovation.  Experimenting.  Risking.  Finding success because of risk taking.

All of these companies have or had too much to do.  But instead of making the difficult decision and expending the 20% more effort required to reach for greatness, they’ve settled for good enough.

The results?

  • K-Mart essentially doesn’t exist anymore.
  • E-Bay has become nearly useless.
  • Amazon’s customer service has become dismal.

Here’s a thought:  mortality is still running at approximately 100%.

How do you want yourself and your business to be remembered after you’re gone?

  • The good enough incrementalist?
  • The person and company who risked it all and changed the world?

No, a company is not a person.  But it takes a person willing to risk it all to make a truly great company.

Look at Boeing.  They literally risked their company developing the 747 in the 1960s and created a whole new market:  the Jumbo Jet.  Because of one airplane, the world became a smaller place.  Regular people could afford to travel and discover that the family in India wanted the same basic things from life as the family in America.

Similarly, the new 787 Dreamliner was viewed by average business people as a financial failure.  While it’s not financially in the black as of yet, it opened up a new market:  inexpensive point-to-point travel.  No more of the hub-and-spoke airport mess for the airlines embracing its capabilities.  That’s a huge time and financial benefit for the flying public.  And the technologies and processes developed from this experiment will help them with their future programs.

How do you want yourself and your business to be remembered after you’re gone?

  • The good enough incrementalist?
  • The person and company who risked it all and changed the world?

Are you going to swim or just tread water?