SA can be competitive and deep inside we all want to strive towards greatness in what we do – whatever job we find ourselves in. However, to do that ‘something extra’ which transforms good work into great work, doesn’t often come easy. Apart from the important value of having a strong work ethic, if we want to add that x-factor to our work, we need to follow a few guidelines as we approach our daily lives. Below, 10 successful entrepreneurs give their view on the difference between people who are good and people who are great. We hope that you will be inspired by these principles as you work towards your goals!
1. Be Consistent by Taking Steps Every Day in Reaching Your Goal
Dawid Mocke, World Surfski Champion and Entrepreneur: “Consistency is the essence of progress. Then, setting great goals that are measurable, achievable and time based.”
Consistency refers to the importance of “going through the motions”. Sometimes we want the big things in life to happen immediately, but we have to realise that the big things happen as a result of many small steps, taken daily in achieving our goals.
When setting goals, try to break the big goals up into small steps so that you can reach the small goals without focusing too much on the big goal – that will ensure that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Know that once you’ve taken all the small steps, success in achieving the big goal will come. It’s a matter of maintaining an adequate balance between having a vision and working constantly towards it every day without being too attached to the outcome.
2. Ask For Advice
Brian Wong, Founder and CEO at Kiip: “Most people neglect to ask the people who are great at what they do, how they became great. Regardless of your age and experience, asking for help is a great way to learn and grow. I think asking for advice is very underrated today.”
It’s important that we realise that asking for advice is not a weakness. In contrast, it’s a sign of maturity since we know that we need to keep learning every day, and to be open to it. Reading articles about the life lessons learned by successful people is just one way you can learn and we suggest browsing through our over 400 interviews to get a head start in learning from amazing people.
Don’t be afraid to ask advice. People are more willing to help that you think and they see it as a complement, as well as an indication that you are open to learn – which is highly valued in a fast-changing job market.
3. Have Self-Belief
Linda Olagunju, Founder of the Renewable Energy Forum South Africa: “I think it is about self-belief. Good work means staying within the boundaries… the tried and tested… great work means relinquishing fear and testing waters.”
We often make the mistake of not trusting ourselves enough and being too risk averse. This makes it difficult to go beyond our comfort zone and explore unknown territory. However, such bold steps are critical if we want to become great at something. It is the people that think outside the box and risk disappointment, that make the greatest gains.
Be responsible throughout your quest to becoming great, but don’t let it hinder you from fulfilling your potential.
4. Walk The Extra Mile
Tina Eboka, Group MD of NTP Radioisotopes Soc Ltd: “Good people do good work; the best they can get away with. On the other hand people who do great work do that over and above the expected and acceptable work.”
A strong work ethic is very important if we want to become great at something. Doing more than what is expected will, however, require more than just dedication. It will also mean that you need to learn how to manage your time properly, know how to set goals and deal with self-doubt. Although a strong work ethic is important in itself and a laudable value to aspire to, it is often taken into account when senior management have to decide who gets promoted. This is also something a potential employer will enquire from your references. Give your very best – it’s the right thing to do, and nothing you ever do will not come back to you in some way!
5. Be Disciplined
Simeon Oriko, Digital & Innovation Strategist, Entrepreneur: “People who are great at what they do, exercise a great deal of discipline in their work.”
Discipline is challenging because we often tend to do what we enjoy, and not what we should, in order to achieve our goals. Discipline ties in with the concept of being consistent through focusing on small steps. Ensure that you plan your day effectively, schedule tasks and use the power of rewards after you’ve reached an important milestone.
Being disciplined gives one a great sense of satisfaction since transcending the temptation of instant gratification happens through successfully exercising willpower and a subsequent experience of feeling self-empowered.
6. Do What You Are Passionate About
Fred Swaniker, Serial Entrepreneur & Leadership Development Expert: “Someone can be very talented at what they do, but if their heart isn’t in it, it’s obvious. I believe that to be great at what you do, you need to be fully committed to it. It is passion that makes someone want to throw themselves into their work and truly be great. It is passion that makes you get up and keep trying, no matter how many times you get knocked down or find obstacles.”
Finding a passion comes easily for some, but for others it takes time. As you gain more life experience, your passion will become clearer. Don’t lose heart if you don’t know yet. Continue exploring different fields and test your skills in a variety of roles. It’s important that you find your passion, because this will carry you during difficult times as Fred Swaniker explains here.
Doing what you’re passionate about doesn’t mean that money is unimportant. It also means finding an adequate balance. Sometimes on your road through living your passion, there will be elements you’re less passionate about. That shouldn’t discourage you, however. The eventual rewards in most cases outweigh the effort and if it doesn’t, you can learn valuable lessons from the experience!
7. Make the World a Better Place
Dr Sharron McPherson, Social Entrepreneur & Activist, Founder of WEDI, Author and Educator: “Greatness is a result of using your gifts in service of others. Great men and women all have talents and gifts for sure – but they are generally driven to use those gifts to solve challenges facing humanity, to make something better so that people can live better.”
The term social entrepreneurship has grown in popularity over the past few years, as more and more business people ask the question: “How can I financially sustain myself and my business, but also give back to the community?”
This questioning has given rise to large amounts of CSI initiatives in many organisations. People driven largely by altruistic notions experience a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s important that we look after ourselves as well as the needs of our community – if our own needs are neglected then our ability to help others may suffer!
8. Be Innovative
Hayden Cox, Founder of Haydenshapes & Investor of Futureflex: “I am a big fan of those who are innovative with their ideas and are not fearful of uniqueness and changing things up. Following a trend and doing it well is good, but carving a new path in creating something thought-provoking is great.”
Innovation can take place when we immerse ourselves in something and allow ourselves to be creative. Often managers don’t want their subordinates to be creative and would rather they do things “by the book.” Although this stifles innovation, one shouldn’t go to the other extreme and be over-innovative in one’s approach. When you are your own boss, this will be much less of a problem, but make sure you still complete your tasks on time as innovation without implementation can stifle progress.
9. Pay Attention
Patrick Schofield, Social Entrepreneur: “Pay attention today! Those who can sustain focus will be the ones who spot the opportunity.”
In our modern world we are overloaded with an inordinate number of messages – in person, through social media, websites, meetings, phone, e-mails etc. If we are not focused despite this, we might miss the opportunities that a networked world has to offer.
Sustaining focus may however require that we manage our use of digital technology carefully. One of the methods to pay more attention and bring focus into your life, is through living in the present moment. This will be discussed below.
10. Live in the Present Moment
Kristina Dryža, International Trend Forecaster, Writer & Author: “The people who are brilliant are those that exist ‘in’ time – present moment – where all true power exists.”
Living in the present will bring more peace and clarity to your life.
Identifying less with thoughts will give you more insight into your life and grow your ability to have more control in directing your life according to your most important values and principles as well as goals.
It also brings sustained focus, with a general feeling of well-being and an experience of being more grounded and ‘in touch’ with your environment. This doesn’t mean our thoughts are unimportant. It’s critical to use our mind to stay responsible and make good decisions. We shouldn’t, however, fall into the trap of overthinking, which may lead us to make the wrong conclusions.
Using one’s intuition and living more ‘in the flow’ can bring great benefits, apart from using logic and reason. An adequate balance between these two extremes is important. A popular technique called mindfulness is worth exploring. It includes meditation, but also includes other ways to be more present when busy with our activities throughout the day.
Although it is important that we strive to be great at what we do, we shouldn’t compromise our values and principles. Living a balanced life is also important and will complement your efforts in becoming great at what you do. It’s also critical not to mistake striving for goodness instead of greatness, with having different priorities. This is an important distinction as Lise Kuhle, Director at the Eco Smart Group, reminds us. It could also be that striving for goodness frees up time to be good in many areas and make you more versatile. That’s fine. Your ‘complete package’ will still be great. You therefore don’t have to be an expert at one thing. It comes down, to a large degree of, to the following: whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability!