James C. Collins · 320 pages
Rating: (93.8K votes)
“When [what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine] come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”
“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
“The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.”
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
“A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.”
“For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
“Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”
“By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average.”
“Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup.”
“The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.”
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”
“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.”
“Mediocrity results first and foremost from management failure, not technological failure.”
“Indeed, the real question is not, “Why greatness?” but “What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?” If you have to ask the question, “Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?” then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.”
“What separates people, Stockdale taught me, is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.”
“Freedom is only part of the story and half the truth.... That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplanted by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. —VIKTOR E. FRANKL, Man’s Search for Meaning”
“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit. —HARRY S. TRUMAN1”
“while you can buy your way to growth, you absolutely cannot buy your way to greatness.”
“The moment a leader allows himself to become the primary reality people worry about, rather than reality being the primary reality, you have a recipe for mediocrity, or worse. This is one of the key reasons why less charismatic leaders often produce better long-term results than their more charismatic counterparts. Indeed,”
“Think of the transformation as a process of buildup followed by breakthrough, broken into three broad stages: disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action. Within each of these three stages, there are two key concepts, shown in the framework and described below. Wrapping around this entire framework is a concept we came to call the flywheel, which captures the gestalt of the entire process of going from good to great.”
“Perhaps your quest to be part of building something great will not fall in your business life. But find it somewhere. If not in corporate life, then perhaps in making your church great. If not there, then perhaps a nonprofit, or a community organization, or a class you teach. Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be, not because of what you will get, but just because it can be done.”
“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”
“thoughtless reliance on technology is a liability,”
“Every good-to-great company had Level 5 leadership during the pivotal transition years. • “Level 5” refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top. Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves. • Level 5 leaders set up their successors for even greater success in the next generation, whereas egocentric Level 4 leaders often set up their successors for failure. • Level 5 leaders display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated. In contrast, two thirds of the comparison companies had leaders with gargantuan personal egos that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company. • Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results. They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or hard the decisions. • Level 5 leaders display a workmanlike diligence—more plow horse than show horse. • Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility. The comparison CEOs often did just the opposite—they looked in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results.”
“The good-to-great companies made a habit of putting their best people on their best opportunities, not their biggest problems. The comparison companies had a penchant for doing just the opposite, failing to grasp the fact that managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great. There is an important”
“You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts. The good-to-great companies operated”
“It didn’t matter how bleak the situation or how stultifying their mediocrity, they all maintained unwavering faith that they would not just survive, but prevail as a great company. And yet, at the same time, they became relentlessly disciplined at confronting the most brutal facts of their current reality.”
“Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people. The management team”
“That’s what makes death so hard—unsatisfied curiosity. —BERYL MARKHAM,”
“You try to walk in the light.”
“It is most unlikely. But--here comes the big "but"--not impossible.”
“When Dr. Mortimer had finished reading this singular narrative he pushed his spectacles up on his forehead and stared across at Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The latter yawned and tossed the end of his cigarette into the fire.
"Well?" said he.
"Do you not find it interesting?"
"To a collector of fairy-tales.”
“Your pretty empire took so long to build, now, with a snap of history's fingers, down it goes.”
“Whoa. Fangs. She had fangs.
She leaned in, prodded them a little. Eating with those puppies was going to take some getting used to, she thought.
On impulse, she brought up her hands, turned her fingers into claws. Hissed.
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