From Good to Great to Greater. Here’s how and how to stay there.

28 May 2024, Tuesday

Great is not something one is given in life .Great is something one must take in life

Fifteen years back Jim Collins penned his best seller: Good to Great. It was a brilliant study of why some organizations make the leap …. and others don’t. But even he could not have imagined ‘the game changer’ that was soon to change the way of the world.

Technology driven companies have gone beyond great to greater – building cultures that can best be described as ‘Insanely Great’. Witness Apple. Witness Microsoft. Witness Google, Uber, Airbnb and the like . And witness South African born Elon Musk’s new Tesla Model D – which comes with an ‘insane mode’. These organizations and individuals, all have one thing in common. They’re fast changing the way of the world

Google can answer every question! Well nearly. Our internet is drowning with information, but at the same time, it’s starved of insight and inspiration when the tough questions get asked .What happens when human greatness turns to human implosion .Witness Steve Jobs, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and even our own Oscar Pistorius. There are so many stories of hero to zero, and it happens so fast. Organizations and individuals who push the human limits are constantly at risk of ‘burn out’. The human element is always in play. And the reality begins to dawn that:

Science can only take one so far.

In this latest article, I go beyond ‘the science of performance’ to explore human greatness from another angle. And , put the spotlight on ‘The Game Changers’, which are most likely to impact on greatness – defined as achieving sustained success and significance .I do hope you find insight and inspiration.

Do let me know, as your feedback is valued and appreciated – and can help others be great.

Game Changer Number One: STEP INSIDE GREAT

When legendary New Zealand rugby captain, Richie McCaw was just 18 years old, his uncle and mentor asked him what he wanted to be in life. Richie’s answer was ‘an All Black’. He got the following inspired response:

Richie – you do not want to be an All Black – you want to be ‘a Great All Black’ – now write it down, sign it and put it up!

Richie could not bring himself to write it down in full – as he had not yet even made the national age group team – so he wrote it down on a napkin as – G.A.B. And signed it.

Richie had his signed stairway to heaven .Committed at eighteen with heart and head.

Putting the prefix ‘Great’ before whatever it is you want to be in life, helps to do  four  important things. It sets the stretch. It sets the commitment.It sets the tone – the way things get done. And most importantly it puts ‘winning against the odds ‘before ‘winning at all cost’.

Greatness is far more than fleeting success. It’s longevity. And it has 3 S’s:

Sustained Success and Significance

Richie McCaw is a shining example of that.

Game Changer Number Two:   THINK DIFFERENT

Steve Jobs made the phrase ‘Think Different ‘famous. Today, it’s more likely that one will hear the words: ‘Insanely Great ‘, in the corridors of Apple. But the thinking has not changed. They want to change the way of the world. They want to shift consumption patterns. And they believe they can do it.

South African born Elon Musk, who is often compared with Steve Jobs, is doing just that. He’s involved in multiple business ventures, but there’s always one common strategic thread:

What’s likely to affect mankind the most – in the foreseeable future – what is not working – let’s go and fix it ‘

Well, Elon Musk has only just begun, and who knows where this resolute, ‘man on a mission’ will go next. Problems are merely compelling opportunities in his ‘insanely great’ entrepreneurial mind. Many of his employees, who he calls ‘his special forces ‘, are originally from Apple – that’s because Musk does not view a car , as a car per se but rather as a computer . And now he’s focused on taking on the world’s energy crisis weaning humanity off planet warming fossil fuels. He’s making next happen.

Game Changer Number Three:   BRANDING IS EVERTHING

Branding is everything .So says Richard Branson, and he’s proving it! Every one of us is in marketing and selling, whether we know it or not .Beauty, strength, intelligence, kindness, wealth, power are all ways we advertise our value as human beings. But, the ‘magical multiplier effect’ of marketing, can only be fully capitalized on, if and when one’s personal and/or organizational brand is ‘made of the right stuff’.

The three legs of one’s branding table must be put firmly in place, namely: Purpose, Priority and Productivity (Performance Goals). Great organizations are the ones who have clarity, and balance all three table legs – putting purpose before profit. Coca Cola’s purpose: ‘to create happiness ‘. Disney’s purpose: ‘to make children smile‘. Starbucks purpose: ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time’. Microsoft’s purpose: ‘to uniquely empower people to do more’.

Great brands sell ‘the sizzle before the steak’, as human beings respond to the why, before the what. Consumers are beginning to ignore obvious brand messaging, instead wanting to know more about the business behind it: the contribution, the social responsibility, the sustainability, the sponsorships, and the causes which the company chooses to support.

The Coca Cola Company does not sell soft- drinks. They sell ‘open happiness’ to the world. Red Bull sells ‘wings‘. Woolworths sells ‘the difference ‘. Churchill sold ‘hope’. Shoprite’s Whitey Basson does not sell food – he’s selling ‘an African dream’. He’s building a continent. He’s contributing.

Selling ‘the why before the what’ elevates performance to the next level – with purpose becoming the key ingredient of productivity.

Whether it’s either an Individual : ‘I ‘ Brand or an organizational or sports team : ‘T’ Brand – a strong brand enables one to unleash ‘the magical multiplier effect ‘ which lies behind one’s marketing and selling efforts. And most importantly, a strong brand acts as one’s compass in good times, and one’s scaffolding in bad times.

Branding is  the ‘magical multiplier ‘ that unleashes our best marketing and selling efforts

 Game Changer Number Four: THE ONE THING

One of the questions I really love to ask is this one:

What do you think is the secret to life – the secret to success?

Of course, the answers are varied, and they’re always inspirational. Bill Gates is quoted as saying that the most important thing that he learnt very early in life, was to focus his finite energy on what’s important in life. Unless one is clear on what’s important – one’s purpose and priorities in life – one can easily fall into the trap of expending life energy on things of no real importance – and adding no real value. This is when game plans begin to cram up with all ‘the wrong stuff’, and things start to go wrong.

Personally, I’m a fan of Gary Keller’s version on ‘the secret to life’, which he reveals in his book ‘The One Thing’- the surprising simple truth behind extraordinary results. He believes focusing on ‘The One Thing’, is the best approach to getting what one really wants in life. In order to get more, one must have less on one’s plate. Focus, Focus and more Focus.

 You stick to that and everything else doesn’t mean shi*t.   Jack Palance in City Slickers

Doing too many things is the sure fire fastest way to human implosion – the very opposite of human greatness. Sustained Success and Significance is determined and driven by how narrow one can make one’s focus.

 If you chase two rabbits – you will not catch either one. Russian proverb

Game Changer Number Five: SIMPLICITY BEFORE COMPLEXITY

Simplicity is the key to brilliance”. Bruce Lee

Have you noticed how increasing professionalism is driving up increasing complexity? From finance to latest growing trend of functional foods, marketers like to keep things complicated in the belief that herein lies the road to greater margin – greater profits. Yes, this may well be true in the short term, but is it sustainable ? No, because someone great, will change the way things are done. Or in comes ‘Uberfication’- the slimming down of interfaces to do just one thing- saving one time and saving  one effort.

In The United States, ‘CEO Whisperer’ Tony Robbins, is able to charge millions of dollars for his services because he has a unique ability to help CEOs –  ‘ to deconstruct complexity’. Complexity is the enemy of execution he says. When the most important ‘P’ in one’s marketing mix becomes Perception, and not Product – it’s time to beware.

Witness the phenomenal and sustained success of Capitec Bank who went out to solve a problem and make small loans simpler – in a historically complex industry. Their marketing slogan cleverly latched onto what Leonardo da Vinci said many years a back:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication ‘

Yet, often we see it working the other way round. SA companies love going on ‘bosberaads’, but nine time out of ten, they come home with ‘added complexity ‘, when the primary goal should be ‘adding simplicity ‘. Game Plans begin to cram up with all ‘the wrong stuff’, and this serves to block off the road to greater – whether as an organization , or as an individual

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs

 

Game Changer Number Six: TAKE HEED

There are two roads which lead to human greatness. One’s called ‘The School of Hard Knocks’, and then there’s the other one called ‘The School of Great Champions’. Tiger Woods seems to be a big fan of the first and far bumpier road, but Rory McIlroy chooses the other less travelled road – that of modeling the success of successful people.

If one’s ultimate dream is to become the greatest golfer to have ever played the game, then a good place to start would be to’ take heed’ from the greatest ever. Rory McIlroy recently bought a house pretty close to that of Mr. Jack Nicklaus, and they’ve become pretty close personal friends. It’s a win-win scenario for Jack too. It’s called passing the torch , as there something special in knowing that someone great is using your ideas – your thinking – your wisdom – to become greater.

Mentorship is an immensely powerful tool, even if you’re the current World Number One!

Take Heed, Grow, Collaborate, Innovate, Mentor, Lead and Inspire!

 

Game Changer Number Seven: CONQUER. DO NOT FIGHT

In the past year alone, Everest has spoken a few times, sadly taking with it many human lives. We as humans simply fail to grasp ‘ the message’, that every true Everest mountaineer comes to know – you cannot bully Everest – you cannot bully the mountain .One must work with the mountain, not against it .Those that fight the mountain succeed only in exhausting themselves – sometimes they even lose their lives. The very same applies in real life.

Many years back Julius Caesar said:

I came. I saw. I conquered ‘

Conquering demands ‘taking heed of the message’ which is being sent out in life! Knowing when to move on the mountain .There is a strange thing about great champions – the greater they become – the more humble they become. They listen, they learn, they take heed. They do not ‘fight the mountain’.

Game Changer Number Eight:   TAKE A BALANCE

There can be no doubting that we now live in the most technologically advanced society that mankind has ever known, but there’s a catch. As smart phones start to consume our lives, our lives are becoming increasingly ‘time poor’. Unless managed, we are increasingly at risk of unwittingly or habitually creating increased ‘life stress”.

One of the most common questions I get asked is: How does one find work / life balance?

The answer. Be more resolute about getting one’s personal branding right – getting one’s purpose, ones priorities and one’s productivity aligned. Failure to get it right means that one is often unclear on one’s priorities, and often unable to say the word NO – to the less important things in life. One’s game plan begins to fill up with all ’ the wrong stuff ‘.It’s at times like these that ‘a stop list’ is far more valuable than a ‘to do list’ .Whether it’s in one’s professional or personal life, it’s imperative to sort out one’s own unique set of priorities – what one values most in life . Every one of us is made different.

In business, priorities are often called ‘strategic pillars’, and there can be no better example than Raymond Ackerman’s ‘Four Legs of the Table’ model. The table remains balanced when one focuses on taking good care of all four legs selected – keeping them balanced at all times .

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.’ Steve Jobs

Game Changer Number Nine: NO HEALTH. NO WEALTH

Human greatness has a flip side called human implosion. It happens. And on most occasions it’s either driven habitually or unwittingly by human choice. We get it humanly wrong. Whilst every one of us is an unique human being, common and definite patterns of human behavior do exist, and can be modelled.

Human implosion can vary from one of the ‘minor stages of burn out ‘, right through to what doctors call ‘the terminal dis-eases ‘. Sometimes, there’s an opportunity to bounce back, sometimes not.

The idea in life is not to become the richest person in the cemetery. So, in a nutshell, here’s the most valuable insight and inspiration on health and life – which I have come across. Surprisingly, it comes from a sporting legend.

We all have a finite amount of energy. Whether you use physical or mental energy it all comes from the same source .Wherever you focus your energy you’re either filling or depleting the same well ‘Sebastian Coe

The human well – or wellness , or one’s wellbeing – has three buckets, namely physical, chemical and emotional .Each bucket can be used to either fill or drain the human well. When we habitually or unwittingly create ‘a state of imbalance’ in any one of these three realms of health, we are effectively draining the human energy well .If this continues long term, it triggers the onset of a ‘state of dis-ease’.

As human beings , we’re mostly fascinated with ‘the science of performance’ , and hence we have become pretty efficient in the physical ( what we do with our bodies ) and chemical ( what we put in our mouths ) realms of life and health . But, most of us remain blissfully unaware of the immensely powerful life force that is ‘emotion’ – what we put into our hearts and head – it’s ‘the art of life balance’. So often, this is where human implosion happens. Unwittingly, we continue to drain the human energy well from the emotional bucket. A tipping is reached and breached – and dis-ease triggers.

If and when doctors say the words ‘there is nothing more we can do’ – you can bet your last dollar that the state of dis-ease has been triggered from the emotional realm of health and life. It’s then wise to take heed – and to leverage the power of ‘life giving’ positive emotions – and eliminate the ‘life destructive’ negative ones.

Here they are for quick reference:

To fill up the human energy well– using the emotional bucket – try unconditional love, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness and happiness/ joy! They are the ‘greatest healers’ in life and health.

And, be very sure to steer well clear of draining the human energy well, with life’s ‘greatest killers’, namely resentment, guilt, criticism, hate, fear and futility/self-pity. If held long term these are the ones that will turn toxic on you!

It’s a human choice where you focus your finite energy – and how you manage your human well. Driving a car on near – empty is never too much fun – so too in real life.

Note to readers : In 2014 , I opened an Online Wellness Resource Centre with the purpose to share insight and inspiration from those that conquer some of life’s greatest challenges , like cancer . You can find out more at www.cancerchampions.co.za

 

Game Changer Number Ten:   POWER OF GRATITUDE

There’s something about the half-time whistle in sport. It signals regrouping, reflection and revitalization. It’s the same in life. Change happens. For most us that comes somewhere, somehow at around the age of 42. For our sporting superstars it comes far earlier .The first half is about ‘all out successes, the second half more about moving beyond success to significance’. It’s the third ‘S’ in our equation of greatness: Sustained Success and Significance.

It took Andre Agassi a long time to realize the potential power he held through his tennis genius. For a long time he loved and hated the game he played so well .But, with age comes wisdom and Agassi has gone on to become one of the greatest philanthropic acts in sport. He gives back. He knows all about gratitude. Behind gratitude lies ‘The Law of Attraction’.

Gratitude attracts further prosperity, and it packs an immensely powerful emotional force. For those that choose to hold on to their personal success, and not to give back – greatness is often short lived and unsustainable. Our universe is one that conspires to help those that conspire to help others .

Sadly many sporting superstars never come round to realize what their purpose is in life : ‘to entertain , educate and enrich other’s lives through their god given talents .Those that keep chasing the personal outcome , often come unstuck .

Gratitude, along with unconditional love, inspiration and enthusiasm are the primary emotional fuels that feed and sustain greatness.

Game Changer Number Eleven:   POWER OF THE PELETON

No one ever achieves greatness on their own. Behind every great champion there is a great team. I’m a big fan of the word ‘Peloton – French for platoon. There is something special about the peloton in cycling. No matter which way the wind blows, ‘The Peloton’ is critical in sport and life. Riding in ‘the right formation’ helps one to get more done ,with less – up to 40 % more in cycling , and that is significant! Great champions are in the business of doing more – they master the art of leverage

the ability to do more with less

Finally, there is one more thing that all great champions just have – it’s called F.C.B: Faith Confidence and Belief. It’s the hallmark of every great champion. They foster and nurture it. And it drives them to ‘make next happen’.

DIN & DIP was the best advice that I was ever given in life Do It Now & Do It Properly! Greg Norman


 

 

*Rob Opie is the founder of The Game Plan , a Brand Strategist, Speaker, Author and ‘The Game Changer’ to organizational teams, sports teams and individuals.

Rob’s purpose in life is to help elevate brands from good to great to greater – inspiring organizations and individuals them to reach ‘the next level’ of performance .

His ground breaking ‘The Game Plan Method’, which embraces potent game- changing methodologies derived from the great champions of business, sport and life, is currently sweeping across South Africa, helping to create  extraordinary stories of sustained success and significance – making next happen.