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Choose Greatness

So excited to have a guest post from Mark Miller. I’ve had the privilege of learning from him over the past eight years. With his focus on choice and service, I think we all stand to  learn some great things from him today. Enjoy!

Did you take Latin in high school or college? Unfortunately, I did not – nor did I take Spanish, French or German. My counselors thought it best I focus on English. Decades later, I’m still working on it!

The truth is, I only know one Latin word. If you, like me, missed the cultural and academic advantage of studying this ancient language, you should at least know this one word…


It’s a fantastic word, a very powerful word for leaders. It literally means, “as great as you choose.” Therefore, the implication is, greatness is a choice.

Is greatness really a choice or does it have everything to do with DNA or an Ivy League education? Certainly, talent and education can help, but talented people and well-educated people often miss greatness by a mile. Why? They fail to make the right choices.

Jim Collins, the notable leadership and management expert did decades of work studying truly great organizations. He discovered many principles that have transformed organizations across the globe. One of his summary conclusions:

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.

So how does this translate for you and me as leaders? The choices we make matter!

Who should we hire?

Who should we fire?

What goals should we pursue?

How should we allocate resources?

How should we invest our time?

How much preparation is really required?

What personal disciplines do we embrace?

How will we measure our success?

These and countless other choices chart our course on a daily basis. Are we making the often challenging, decisions that lead to greatness? A good test to apply is to literally ask yourself the following question as you contemplate your next decision – Will this choice put me, or us, on the path to greatness?

Over the course of a lifetime we’ll make an almost infinite number of decisions. Each one moves us closer or further from greatness. Many of these choices we’ll immediately recognize as significant. Others are critical but may not get the attention they deserve.

Let’s close by considering what may be the ultimate choice to determine our “greatness.” It’s falls in the category of the easily overlooked or undervalued.

Dr. Martin Luther King said it like this:

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.

Will you choose to serve? Great leaders do – Quantuvis!


Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.


Choosing to Think

“The early morning belongs to the Church of the risen Christ. At the break of light it remembers the morning on which death and sin lay prostrate in defeat and a new life and salvation were given to mankind.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

Choosing Not to Help

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Lord help me always evaluate my motives when helping others. May they always be pure and out of love. Always seeking to make space to genuially listen. To care without imposing my ideas or thoughts on what I feel is best. The wisdom to know when I need to act and speak, but also to know when I should not.

Very good reminder from Heath Plett. http://heatherplett.com/2015/04/when-is-helping-the-wrong-thing-to-do/ 

Choosing Autonomy

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink discusses a need for an upgrade from our current “carrot and stick” Motivation 2.0 to a style which includes autonomy, mastery and purpose or Motivation 3.0. He helps us understand certain desires and innate characteristics born in all of us. These characteristics motivate us to perform at our highest level as we create in and explore our world.

The word autonomy originated in the 1620’s from the Greek autonomos “independent, living by one’s own laws,” from the combination of auto- “self” and nomos “custom, law.”

The common theme in several studies, is autonomy. Pink doesn’t describe autonomy as chaotic, but one of self structure. Structure over ones time, the team they work with, the tasks they take on, and the techniques they use for completing assigned tasks. He cites several studies, among which is the development of the wonderful Post-it note. This product was discovered total by accident, during a time of company sanctioned exploration. It has now over 600 variations in over 100 countries. it all came about through the desire for 3M scientist to use 15% of their work week on projects outside their normal, on things of interest to them. Google likewise has had similar successful results. They chose to invest 20% of the work week, typically one day, to tasks or ideas which interest their programmers. Again, outside the normal tasks, with very similar results. A phenomenal result among many, is Google’s gmail.

Seth Goden captures the essence of autonomy when he states, “As an entrepreneur, I’m blessed with 100% autonomy over task, time, technique and team. Here’s the thing: If I maintain that autonomy, I fail. I fail to ship. I fail to excel. I fail to focus. I inevitably end up either with no product or a product the market rejects. The art of autonomy is picking your limits. That’s the autonomy I most cherish, the freedom to pick my boundaries.”

Autonomy is just one element in the mix. Organizations are finding opportunities to improve employee engagement through a combination of autonomy, mastery and purpose. We’ll look at Daniel’s thoughts around these other two area over the next two post.

Random Thought

I ran across this great quote by Jim Rohn. It’s for all leaders seeking elusive balance in their leadership. I hope you enjoy. “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; becoming, but not week; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without falling.”

Check out the blog tomorrow. I’m going to share a follow up to a previous post on Daniel Pink’s book, Drive.

Have an awesome evening.

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