Book:  Great by Choice

Author:  Jim Collins

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:   Collins, J. & Hansen, M. (2011). Great by choice : uncertainty, chaos, and luck : why some thrive despite them all. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Key Ideas & Big Takeaways:

  • The 20 Mile March is about having concrete, clear, intelligent, and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms that keep you on track. You must have unwavering commitment to high performance in difficult situations. Ultimately, we are responsible for improving performance. We never blame circumstance; we never blame the environment. (pg. 45)

  • In schools, grasping for the next "silver bullet" - lurching from one program to the next - destroys motivation and erodes confidence. The critical step is not finding the perfect program or waiting for national educational reform, but in taking action. Pick a good program, instilling the fanatic discipline to make relentless progress, and stay with the program long enough to generate sustained results. You can gain confidence by the very fact of improving student achievement. If you beat the odds, you then gain confidence that you can beat the odds again. (pg. 57)

  • It is not discipline alone that makes greatness, but the combination of discipline and creativity. (pg. 77)

  • Across all the great companies, we've never found a single instance of sustained performance due simply to pure luck. We've also never found a great company devoid of luck events along its journey. Instead, it's better to look at return on luck. Getting a high return on luck requires throwing yourself at the luck event with ferocious intensity and not letting up. (pg. 165)

  • The best leaders shine when clobbered by setbacks and misfortune, turning bad luck into good results. Great leaders use difficulty as a catalyst to deepen purpose, recommit to values, increase discipline, and respond with creativity. Resilience, not luck, is the signature of greatness. (pg. 169)

  • Great leaders are fanatic about getting the right people on the bus and into the right seats. Its far better to invest heavily in the right people than to pour too much energy into people who aren't going to make it. (pg. 185)

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