Humility and Fierce Resolve

I pulled out my notes on Good to Great to find a quote or two for yesterday's blog post on self-awareness. Inevitably I found other quotes meaningful to me. They speak for themselves and since my drafts queue is full of half-finished ideas, allow me to simply share them with you below. You'll find my brief comments in italics. The title of this post refers to the two key qualities found in all of Collins' Level 5 leaders.

Management and leadership is not about those doing the managing and leading, but rather about those being managed and led.

... Level 5 leaders have ambition not for themselves but for their companies ... Level 5 leaders want to see their companies become even more successful in the next generation and are comfortable with the idea that most people won’t even know that the roots of that success trace back to them. As one Level 5 CEO said, “I want to look from my porch, see the company as one of the great companies in the world someday, and be able to say, ‘I used to work there.’ ” 

The hardest thing a manager has to do is let someone go. It is always gut-wrenching for both parties. To be great you must relentlessly focus on the long-term ambitions of the company. As a result tough decisions become necessary and obvious.

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.

When it comes to product, Squarespace's Anthony Casalena embodies this lesson more than any founder I know.

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.

Only rocket science is rocket science and only saving lives is saving lives. The rest of us should remember that work is just work. Don't overthink it. Focus on your family and choose work that is deeply meaningful to you. The rest will follow. For me that means choosing to help grow teams creating innovative software that has tangible and meaningful impact on the lives of the individuals who use it. 

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.