Two steps and one leap towards greatness

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Before we discuss how to become great, let's define what it means to be great. Greatness is that heightened sense, feeling and state of superiority that allows us to believe our actions, talents and abilities are better than those of most others. There are many books and videos on the market promising to teach us how to unlock all of the the hidden secrets of such qualities but, at the end of the day, achieving greatness boils down to one's ability to stay focused and committed to personal growth and development. Following the three steps below may help you to achieve greatness and a lifetime of fulfillment:

Step away from Goals - Having been in corporate America for 17 years and always working to complete my next project, step away from goals pains me to say. In the business world, possessing the ability to drive results is a valuable skill and developing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals is good practice. But my aim here is to think beyond the next task and to explore what it means to fully commit to greatness.

As a society we are all too fixated on establishing goals and determining the shortest way to complete them. Like the woman who aspires to lose 10 pounds in two days and goes on a crash diet to achieve it. Forty eight hours later her face and waist appear thinner, but a few weeks later and she's heavier than before she started. She is not alone, many share a similar mindset; which is probably why 70% of our population is dangerously unhealthy and most New Year's Resolutions fail. This crash dieter would have been better suited to commit herself to eating better foods and living a healthier lifestyle with no weight-loss goal in mind.

Not only can the goals we set be unattainable and non-sustainable, it can also keep us oblivious to the consequences and holistic costs of the achievement ... Think of the top performing sales associates at Enron, who consistently met the company's revenues goals and became the highest commissioned in the country. Beyond the accounting chicaneries and other areas of foul play, setting goals on revenue growth without considering profit drove Enron into the ground.

Another downside to goal setting occurs at the inception when we rely dominantly on our left brain, the linear and analytical side. This could limit us to 50% of our full thinking power and remove success factors like passion, instinct and creativity from the process.

In order to be great, we must take our eyes off of the prize and focus on making what we once considered to be difficult easier. Practice for the sake of practicing, even when we seem to be getting nowhere, is more beneficial than working towards an end-goal. Those in pursuit of greatness never stop honing their skills.

"Think of practice as more than something you do, make it who you are." -George Leonard

Step up to become an Expert - If you were taking a survey on your skills sets, how many would be marked as expert status? Selecting more than one or two items is likely to be the result of naivety, the benchmark against a weak talent pool, or the side-effect of an over-sized ego. It is very common for those with less experience to overvalue themselves. With more expertise comes more awareness of what we could do better; which supports the motto ... the more you know, the more you realize you don't know.

Nobody is an expert of many things, but being an expert in just one can be all it takes to sustain a lucrative and successful career; which is for good reason. The path towards gaining extensive knowledge or abilities in a well-distinguished domain, that goes far beyond those of the ordinary person, is an incredibly challenging one that comes with a long list of credentials and demonstrated history of success.

When expert status is achieved, you are known as a most reliable source where the best in the field will officially rely on your opinion. Once again, this does not mean being a key go to person for Sue, of accounts payable, when she has a question on the general ledger. The type of wisdom, expertise and judgment we're speaking of will enable you to rewrite the book on the subject.

Beware of putting forth the time and effort into becoming an expert in an area that you are not overly enthused or passionate about, as doing so may result in an unfulfilled life.

Leap of Faith - At some point during life's journey, we reach a crossroads that tests and challenges the very nature of what we believe to be true. This is partially due to the fact that many of us are programmed to discredit the intangible, or anything unproven. However, sometimes the greatest steps taken completely defy logic, and are more intuition-based than pragmatic. For example there was no empirical evidence to support the beliefs that fueled Steve Jobs ... that the general public would desire a personal computer, and he would be the best suited to deliver it.

Many who have achieved sensational success had the inner trust and confidence that initiated the leap of faith, and enabled them to conquer resistance and break through all known limits. Without any guarantees or promises, the desire for greatness allowed those of mega-success and stardom to prevail against the risks and fears that hold most others back.

Unfortunately, there are many who have taken a big leap of faith and stumbled. This usually comes from making the bold move without full commitment, or while trying to exercise too much caution. Some will unknowingly revert back towards familiar comfort zones by trying to quantify the efficacy of the step; e.g., setting strict goals around performance, timing, or the ability to monetize the initiative can halt the inertia behind the leap in mid-stride, as if wearing a set of iron shackles. This completely removes the faith piece of the leap; which leads to second-guessing the entire act.

Even the most brightest are guilty of implementing such cautionary practices, and model the possible outcomes of the leap before taking it. To mitigate risk and ensure that your leap of faith is a purposeful one, align it with an area of expertise or deep passion. When you do what you love and love what you do the time and effort put forth is never wasted.

"Successful people tend to be passionate about what they are doing and can therefore persevere. People who are not passionate, will quit…in order to preserve their sanity." -Steve Jobs

 

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"Welcome to the Big Leagues offers inspiration, humor, and the much needed insights to overcome the barriers that exist in the business world. It is a very enjoyable read where the author shares his personal stories in a way to help others."

"In the business world, greatness only comes to those who consistently perform at peak levels and work hard to raise the bar from there. Welcome to the Big Leagues is a profound guide; packed with essential tips and powerful stories to coach rookies on how to achieve all-star performance, while getting the most out of career and life."

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Luigi Sciabarrasi, Senior VP, DTZ

"In the business world, greatness only comes to those who consistently perform at peak levels and work hard to raise the bar from there. Welcome to the Big Leagues is a profound guide; packed with essential tips and powerful stories to coach rookies on how to achieve all-star performance, while getting the most out of career and life."

"Every business rookie and professional will recognize themselves somewhere in Welcome to the Big Leagues, as it presents thought provoking stories and solutions to the challenges we face in our daily lives. Del Sordi creates a powerful tool that helps readers to align actions with who they want to be and where they want to go in life."

Jack Morgenstern, Global Head, Wipro Technologies

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Jack Morgenstern, Global Head, Wipro Technologies

"Every business rookie and professional will recognize themselves somewhere in Welcome to the Big Leagues, as it presents thought provoking stories and solutions to the challenges we face in our daily lives. Del Sordi creates a powerful tool that helps readers to align actions with who they want to be and where they want to go in life."

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found that it brings clarity to events that have affected my own professional career. I strongly recommend the read."

Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

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Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found Continue Reading

"Welcome to the Big Leagues is a very enjoyable read that’s packed with many insights on how to succeed in corporate America and life in general. I strongly recommend it for all new college graduates who are now ready to up their game."

Andrew Del Matto, CFO, Fortinet

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Andrew Del Matto, CFO, Fortinet

"Welcome to the Big Leagues is a very enjoyable read that’s packed with many insights on how to succeed in corporate America and life in general. I strongly recommend it for all new college graduates who are now ready to up their game."

"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Del Sordi knocks it out of the park."

Todd Kauffmann, Senior VP, UBS Financial Services

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Todd Kauffmann, Senior VP, UBS Financial Services

"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Continue Reading

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed edge on how to succeed."

Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

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Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed Continue Reading

"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential to read."

David Tu, President, DCL Inc

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David Tu, President, DCL Inc

"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential Continue Reading

"Welcome to the Big Leagues embodies Carmine's passion and commitment towards achieving greatness. The valuable tips and concepts apply throughout all industries and business sectors. With three corporate rookies of my own, I bought each a copy."

David Laverty, COO, Nixon Inc

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David Laverty, COO, Nixon Inc

"Welcome to the Big Leagues embodies Carmine's passion and commitment towards achieving greatness. The valuable tips and concepts apply throughout all industries and business sectors. With three corporate rookies of my own, I bought each a copy."

"Welcome to the Big Leagues does a very good job of guiding the corporate rookie through the minefield of joining corporate America and providing a path to a successful career. Having played the game for close to 40 years; which included owning the roles of coach and mentor, I highly recommend this book for rookies and veterans alike."

John Sorci Jr., VP Global Operations, Symantec

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John Sorci Jr., VP Global Operations, Symantec

"Welcome to the Big Leagues does a very good job of guiding the corporate rookie through the minefield of joining corporate America and providing a path to a successful career. Having played the game for close to 40 years; which included owning the roles of coach and mentor, I highly recommend this book for rookies and veterans alike."

"A positive wake-up call to remind us on how to do things right again. Welcome to the Big Leagues logically details the methodologies needed for building a blue print towards success. I wish I had this when I was entering the working world after my undergraduate degree. Every college graduate with the aspiration of performing at full potential should read this book."

Jay Kaufman, VP Marketing & Strategy, Annai Systems

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Jay Kaufman, VP Marketing & Strategy, Annai Systems

"A positive wake-up call to remind us on how to do things right again. Welcome to the Big Leagues logically details the methodologies needed for building a blue print towards success. I wish I had this when I was entering the working world after my undergraduate degree. Every college graduate with the aspiration of performing at full potential should read Continue Reading

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Spencer Hughes, Radio Host, The Spencer Hughes Show

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Spencer Hughes, Radio Host, The Spencer Hughes Show

"I've read Welcome to the Big Leagues twice and found it to be just like watching a movie, where you pick up more the second time around. This book is very powerful and packed with real world advice that college students, graduates, and millennials will all benefit from."

"Carmine identifies the critical components that are necessary to live, survive and succeed in the corporate world. He does so in a manner that parallels the world of baseball and adds a dash of humor along the way. He is right on the mark and hits home as I relate back to the early part of my career. The corporate world is a very competitive environment that can be loaded with stress, ill feelings towards others as well as being a very unhealthy place to be. It is only those who understand how to identify roadblocks and how to handle them who thrive in such settings. In his book, Carmine has done an excellent job in highlighting all of this and giving some great advice to the corporate rookie, but I will also say that it is a refreshing read for us veterans that have been through it. I found that I was very entertained and recommend it to all."

Peter Gebert, VP Finance, Mannkind Corp

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Peter Gebert, VP Finance, Mannkind Corp

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Jeanne Phares, VP, Group Controller, Macerich

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Jeanne Phares, VP, Group Controller, Macerich

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7 Responses

  1. machnolee
    Very unconventional viewpoint, but you're right, in many cases, goals can do more harm than good. I like the idea of being great, rather than just setting sometimes unrealistic and arbitrary goalposts that you think lead to greatness.
  2. I hadn't thought of the downsides to setting goals! I will have to keep this in mind.
  3. The first step is making your business plan. If you can't event execute that, then how will you be able to tackle the questions and issues that come up on your way to achieving success or even greatness. Greatness is technically a mindset, which means you have to already be set toward a positive and gogetter attitude. Becoming an Expert shouldn't come first... building trust should come first before establishing authority as no one is going to listen to the newbie right off the bat. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    • Thanks for the reply Nile. Optimism is a mindset, whereas greatness comes over time through demonstrated success. Not sure about your reference to a business plan? Does being a great MLB pitcher require a business plan? Perhaps a better and more obvious term is goals...which is why I took a different angle to show the pitfalls or adverse impacts of goals. Almost everyone has them and many fail. My article speaks of what it takes to sustain greatness over time by looking beyond ordinary goal setting, practicing perfectly, becoming an expert in something you love and, lastly, trusting yourself to take that big leap of faith when it comes. I am unclear of your comments about becoming an expert first and trusting a newbie.
  4. Carmine, You have written so much in this one article. I like the way you explained that you cannot be an expert in many different areas but if you dig deep into one area others will come to you for your reliable opinion. I have always loved learning all different aspects of a thing, e.g., when I studied guitar I studied folk guitar, jazz guitar and rock guitar from many different teachers and classes and groups. There is a certain expertise that comes from synthesizing information from different sources which can be very different from going into depth in one area. And I love the statement about practice, "Make it who you are." Warmly, Dr. Erica
  5. Hello Carmine, I have never read an article quite like this one before. All the articles that I have read say to set those smart goals and then take those baby steps to achieve them. I like your idea of just sticking to one thing and just to be great at this, but yet I think we still need to think about what we want to do and isn't this setting goals. Hum? This post has really gotten me thinking this evening.. Be Great and do enjoy your weekend.. Chery :))
    • Hi Chery, Thanks for the comment. In corporate America, I do set smart goals and hold myself and team accountable to drive results. However, there is definitely a downside to goal setting. I cannot even begin to count the times where executives have made decisions to meet short-term objectives/goals that hurt the company in the long-term. They set goals and EVERYTHING becomes about making the respective numbers no matter what cost or consequence. My article focuses on steps towards greatness. Not every step, just three to consider. Life learners who pursue the path of Mastery live without goals, relish the journey, and continuously improve themselves throughout it. Think of a person who decides to pursue martial arts, should he do it for the goal of obtaining a black belt or pursue the art with the mindset of learning, enjoying and embracing the discipline of the study? The person who is in it just for the black belt is more likely to quit. Too many of us have the eye-on-the-prize mentality and go through life unfulfilled. Best, Carmine

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