Sweat, smiles & being uncomfortably peaceful…

I’ve read Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great” a number of times and for those who haven’t, his read has been used in hundreds and thousands of businesses as the genesis for internal corporate change and is focused around subtle efforts needed to move one’s performance from “good” to “great”. In short, the author talks about how being “good” can deter people from being “great”. Interesting concept and it has made me think about my personal definition of great and a couple of people who have impacted my life based on their “greatness”.

Let me use Jim Collins’ concept and knock it around a bit. Let’s pretend, for a minute, that businesses weren’t the only thing on the planet that require people to go from good to great (crazy thought, I know). If we remember that people are the capital that makes up ALL companies, wouldn’t it be an interesting premise to analyze how individuals, who tap into subtle greatness, impact life and the people they encounter on a daily basis? And…is there a glue (of sorts) that people who have achieved this ability all share in common? When we talk about the people who impact the world and the people in it, we probably think very grand; Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Swamiji Parthasarathy, Eleanor Josaitis, Pope Francis, etc. Some of us, when asked, will ratchet it down a bit and think of parents, teachers, friends, etc., so I respect that my opinions are a bit less statistically relevant from the research team who penned Good to Great, but nonetheless, I think you’ll be able to change your thinking a bit and recognize that you have your own definition of great and there are people, everyday, who surround you and teach you what it means to be great. Although these people might not be Chief Executive Officers, Senior Business Leaders or Ghandi, I’d be willing to bet that they carry a set of innate traits, which trend with my observations and have led me to my belief that there are very consistent behavior thoughts and patterns, which elevate certain people to be hyper impactful on life’s journey.

My premise is simple, these people, who I consider great, have a balanced combination of sweat, smiles and the willingness to be uncomfortably peaceful.

No one will call me Aristotle for acknowledging sweat as a precursor for impacting people (yes, having a “work hard” mantra is traditionally synonymous with great). You could continue debating my theory by stating how “cutting edge and brilliant” it is to assume that one who smiles (while working hard) can also reap the benefits of positively impacting life (theirs and ours), but less of you probably think about terms like “uncomfortably peaceful” and how that trait may be the glue, when combined with hard work and a smiling attitude, that really enables someone to become a profound impact factor on life’s journey. Being uncomfortably peaceful is something of a blur, isn’t it? Peace, as I define it, is that feeling when all thought exits the mind, that feeling we experience just before we go to sleep. You know it…when your breathing slows, your muscles relax and you have that period of time where everything “feels” right. I have noticed a number of people, lately, who seem to walk the planet, most days, with that kind of…”it’s all good” attitude, so I wanted to recognize them for the positive impact they have on my life and possibly the lives of others too.

As I look back over 4 decades of life progression, 2 decades of career progression and a half a decade in the world of heavy introspection and philosophy, I have a deep respect and acknowledgement for the people I have encountered. Thousands of people along the way and I have an even deeper respect for those, recently, who have attracted my intentional focus. They are great, from my vantage point, at living life. Some of you might know these people, some of you might not, but either way…please pay attention to the fact that both of these people seem to have harnessed the ability to work hard, smile while doing it and embrace being uncomfortably peaceful and by my standards, they have achieved greatness!

My intent in sharing these people’s names is not to embarrass them, but knowing them, it probably will. Most of us know what it means to sweat (work hard and drive toward efforts), to smile (these people seem to have found a balance in the ability to recognize that their work efforts are strong and therefore, regardless of outcomes, they know they have reason to smile). And finally…they are embracing the concept of being uncomfortably peaceful (when long hours or tough projects or juggling chaotic lifestyles or embracing a new change and pace to life’s journey collide). All of those things can be uncomfortable, but these people appear to find peace in it, hence the term, uncomfortably peaceful. In closing, I wanted to recognize them for the positive impact they have on my life and possibly the lives of others too.

Jim T. Strong professional career, hyper involved with the support of our city and his children’s school, he is also someone who is well read, finds time to workout, challenges himself daily, is a strong husband and father and all the while, smiles more than grumbles. He carries that finely required mix of balance. Jim and I have been friends for years, but it was only recently that I grasped how impressive he is, holistically, as a person, so I wanted others to know that if you want to see what great looks like, please connect with him.

Kathy S., my Words with Friends buddy, was introduced into my life, by my wife, Deena. Kathy and Deena taught together and we attend the same church, so it has always been a casual friendship. Kathy and I don’t spend a ton of time together, I haven’t known her as long as I’ve known Jim, but she has still had a huge impact on me. Kathy’s interesting ability to stay so warm, so focused on others and so connecting has been an amazing experience, for me, personally. As a retired teacher, Mother, Wife and friend, Kathy welcomes you in and she has reinforced how to appreciate the life we have. Thanks Kathy.

I could write hundreds of people on this post. People who have had profound impact on my life and I’m blessed to be around so many great people. If you get a chance to read this, do me a favor and reach out to a couple of them and let them know about your definition of “great” and how they have helped teach you to pursue it.

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