Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to take your college career from good to great

I just finished reading a book I've always heard about but had never read -  Good to Great by Jim Collins.

The book is based off a case study of businesses, but the concepts in the book relate a lot to your potential in college for greatness. 

Why would you want to be great? Because, as Collins says, the momentum you build when you pursue greatness "adds more energy back into the pool than it takes out. Conversely, perpetuating mediocrity is an inherently depressing process and drains much more energy out of the pool than it puts back in" (p. 208).

Does your college career ever feel like that? A depressing and draining process? The best way to counteract that cycle is to pursue greatness  in a direction that you actually care about.

Because that's the secret - greatness can only come when you care about something. When Collins asked top CEO's why they made their organization great, they couldn't answer. Because they just cared about it so much that they couldn't not go for greatness. 

Collins' advice: "Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be, not because of what you will get, but just because it can be done" (p.209). 

Do you care about your college career? Are you pursuing a major or a career direction that moves you to give your 100% every day in class? That is what it takes. As Thomas Friedman said, "the age of average is over," and success in anything requires the kind of work ethic needed to pursue greatness. 

There are so many parallels in Collins' book that you can apply to pursuing greatness in any area of your life, but for college, the one I just had to leave you with is the three circles. Collins' circles have slightly different phrasing because they are related to businesses; below I've drawn three circles for you that represent the concepts I speak to college students about all the time when it comes to finding your major and direction in college

To pursue greatness in your college career and future career, you'll want to start being purposeful in filling in your three circles with information about you so that you can get to a major and/or career plan that will motivate you to succeed. 

Get involved in clubs, try out internships, and seek out professional mentors to help you figure out what you care about, what you are really good at, and how that fits into our current economy. (If you're feeling really above-average, why not draw those circles on a piece of paper right now and start filling them in with your ideas so far?) 

The best way to pursue greatness in your life is to start learning about yourself. Once you figure out where your three circles intersect, there will be no stopping you :)

Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: why some companies make the leap--and others don't. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.

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