Good is the Enemy of Great

Good to Great

The G in our acronym MAGIC stands for Good is the enemy of Great.

We often think that the opposite of good is bad. As in:

If I buy my wife diamond earrings for our anniversary. Good
If I buy her a mop. Bad

And while good and bad may be opposites the enemy of great is good.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t says

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

As I described earlier Success is…

  • Knowing your purpose in life,
  • Growing to reach your maximum potential, and
  • Sowing seeds that benefit others

You can see by this definition why success is a journey rather than a destination. No matter how long you live or what you decide to do in life, you will never exhaust your capacity to grow toward your potential, nor will you run out of opportunities to help others. When you see success as a journey, then you never have the problem of trying to “arrive” at an elusive final destination. And you’ll never find yourself in a position where you’ve accomplished some final goal – only to discover that you’re still unfulfilled and searching for something else to do.

I have been a professional magician for over 25 years. After about ten years I had settled on a pretty good show. It got a good reaction, it got good audience response, and it paid the bills.
Then I was challenged by my mentor to take out the weakest piece in the show. I said it was a pretty good act now. He said that it could be better, that I should always be striving to make it better. A good show was not good enough.

He asked me to find the weakest piece in my show and replace it with something stronger. And then three months later, do that again.  I asked, “When will I know that I’m done, when their are no weak parts?” He said, “Their is always a weakest part. That’s the point Greg; you can always improve.”
This point was driven home to me when I got a chance to spend some time with Andre Kole. Andre is one of the greatest illusionists and inventors in magic.
We were talking about performance and connecting with the audience and he said, ” I am always reminding David to remember to take in the whole audience, the balconies, the loges.” He was talking about David Copperfield. Now if David Copperfield was being coached and trying to be better, then I had better not settle for a good show.

Is it a great show yet? I’m not sure but it is better than when it was good.

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.

I’m the Boss. I don’t Serve

John Maxwell, in his book Your Road Map for Success, defines success as:

Knowing your purpose in life,
Growing to reach your maximum potential, and
Sowing seeds that benefit others.

Leaders add value by serving others.  The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.

There is no more noble occupation in the world, than to assist another human being—
to help someone succeed.

The interaction between every leader and follower is a relationship, and all relationships either add to or subtract from a person’s life. If you are a leader, trust me you are having either a positive or a negative impact on the people you lead. There is one critical question:

Are you making things better for the people who follow you?

If you can’t give some evidence of making things better for your people, then you are probably a subtractor. 90% of all people who subtract do so unintentionally.

When a leader subtracts and doesn’t change his ways, he goes from subtracting to division.

In contrast 90% of all people who add value do so intentionally. Why? Because human beings are naturally selfish. l’m selfish, adding value requires me to be out of my comfort zone.

Add enough value to enough people and your effort multiples.

Benefits of adding value, serving others:

1. It benefits those being served.

2. Serving is fulfilling.

3. It allows us to lead with the right motives

4. Serving develops a leadership culture, and a leadership team.

You don’t need a title to serve.

Success is usually when I work hard to benefit myself. Significance is when I work hard to benefit others.
1. Add value by valuing others. Never make people feel important but believe that they ARE important.

2. We add value when we make ourselves more valuable.

3. We add value to others when we know and relate to what others value.

The more influence I have, the greater my impact on others — for better or worse. I want to add value, not take it away.

You’ll always have everything in life’ that you want IF you help enough people get what they want. —— ZIG ZIGLAR

How and when are you a servant leader?


Do you know what the people closest to you value?


Why Don’t People Listen to Me?

How Do I Gain More Influence?

Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.  How well you lead determines how successful you are. It is as simple as that.


Your leadership ability is a lid on your business potential. Your potential may well be unlimited, but your lid is holding it back.

Allow me to to explain it this way.  Think of your leadership lid as a ten dollar bill.  How much is it worth? Ten dollars.  Everyone in Canada knows the value of this bill.  The potential is…that you can buy up to $10 worth of stuff with it.  Or $8.85 plus taxes.

But suppose it only had a value of five dollars. You could only buy five dollars worth of goods with it. I may have ten dollar plans for it but it doesn’t matter because we can’t get more than five dollars for it.

Well, your leadership lid has the same kind of impact. If your desire is a 10 but your ability to lead is a 5, you’ll never perform at the level of a 10. You’ll perform as a 5 or lower. Your results will be at 5 or lower.

So whatever your leadership ability is right now, it is throttling back your potential.  And because of that, you are getting lower results. my business is a going to be a 4 .. or a 3 maybe .. at absolutely best 5 .. but it’s not going to go beyond that.

    • You can’t buy $10 worth of groceries with a $5 bill;
    • You can’t win a 10K race if you can only run 5K; and
    • You can’t get 10 results with a leadership lid of 5

The good news is, you can learn to lead.  Anyone can learn to influence more people. And being a leader is influence, nothing more and nothing less.  The more people you influence, the higher your lid.

Yes, leadership IS a learnable skill. It is what I specialize in; teaching these principles.

It is not something you learn overnight, by attending one conference, or by reading one book. It is a process and evolves over time. But every time you attend a seminar, and every time you read a book on leadership, your skills develop.

Anyone that has ever learned to play a musical instrument, or learned to speak a new language understands the law of process.

You’ve got to evolve through the process. You can’t wait to develop your leadership skill.  If you ever want to be a leaders, or have any influence, you need to start right now. The old adage is true “success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.”

In my profession as a magician, I have seen many ‘overnight successes.’ Or at least it looks like an overnight success.  Winnipeg born magician Darcy Oake became most famous when he went on to the final five on Britain’s Got Talent.

Some magicians sit back and say, “Wow, was he ever lucky.” and “I’d give anything to be in his position.”

ANYTHING?  Really? Because this overnight success started when he was 11 years old. He worked with those birds for hours on end, for over ten years.  It was a process.  And in Darcy’s case a long hard process.  He wasn’t lucky.  He was just prepared when the opportunity presented itself.

Personal and organizational success comes down to leadership.  Everything rises and falls on leadership.

The secret of our success is discovered in our daily agenda. It is in what we do everyday.  It is in the process.

So the first step in the Magic of Leadership is:

Make Leadership Growth a daily priority.

The Magic of Leadership

The Magic of Leadership

If I was to tell you that I had a magic formula for, say, losing weight you would be right to doubt me. The only formula that works is to eat less and burn more calories. (When it comes to eating less, I have had some recent success with Valentus. See ). There  is no magic bullet for just about anything.  But good leadership really does work like magic.

As my mentor, John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

Good leadership can make the difference between success and failure. For a company, for a sports team, and for a family.

Jim Collins is the author of Good to Great Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t

It is important to understand that he developed all of the concepts in this book by making empirical deductions directly from the data. They did not begin with a theory to test or prove. They wanted to build a theory from the ground up, derived directly from the evidence.

So, early in the project, Collins kept insisting, “Ignore the executives.” But the research team kept pushing back, “No! There is something consistently unusual about them. We can’t ignore them.” And Collins would respond, “But the comparison companies also had leaders, even some great leaders. So, what’s different?” Back and forth the debate raged.

Finally—as should always be the case—the data won.

Every single one of the Good to Great Companies had Level 5 leaders. Great leadership does lead to great companies. It does leads to great teams. and it does leads to great families.

As Collins described it

“The good—to-great executives were all cut from the same cloth. It didn’t matter whether the company was consumer or industrial, in crisis or steady state, offered services or products. It didn’t matter when the transition took place or how big the company. All the good—to-great companies had Level 5 leadership at the time of transition. Furthermore, the absence of Level 5 leadership showed up as a consistent pattern in the comparison companies. Given that Level 5 leadership cuts against the grain of conventional wisdom, especially the belief that we need larger-than-life saviours with big personalities to transform companies, it is important to note that Level 5 is an empirical finding, not an ideological one.”

Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.
And good leadership leads to happier employees. Employees who are happier are more productive, have less sick days, and give better customer satisfaction. (Studies have shown that a 1% increase in employee satisfaction leads to a 2% increase in customer satisfaction.)

Fewer sick days and happier employees leads to higher productivity.

Higher productivity leads to higher profits.

It’s works just like magic.



Can I Trust You?


To be a leader, to be able to influence people, they must be able to trust you.

And to be trustworthy, you need to Major in the Minor Things

If you consistently do what’s right in the little things, you’re less likely to wander off course morally or ethically.

I opened for Sherron Watkins at the True North Leadership Conference a few years ago and was able to spend a bit of time with her. Sherron is most famous as the whistle blower at Enron as outlined in her book, Power Failure. I asked how things could get so far out of hand before anyone noticed. She said, ” It doesn’t start with millions of dollars Greg. It starts with the little things. It starts with a two martini lunch. Then a padded expense account, and it just grows from there.”

When I started performing as a magician I learned a lot from video tapes. (Yes, I’m that old.) Magicians would share their tricks of the trade with other magicians on these tapes. Occasionally, I would borrow a tape from a friend as they were quite expensive. Sometimes my friends would make a copy for me instead of leading me the original.

One day as I looked at my shelves with these tapes on them, it hit me that this was stealing. I took all my copies and tossed them away. Some people consider this a grey area, not unlike copying music. The original still exists and you didn’t take anything from anybody. So, it isn’t stealing. Wrong. It is stealing because I have something I didn’t pay for.

When I served on Morden Town Council, the RCMP did an audit of our local Police Force. The whole council got a copy of the report to read. When news of the report got out, I was asked what was in it. I replied that it was confidential.

Then I asked others on council how they had responded to these questions. I was told that they just said that they hadn’t seen the report. All of them had read the report but it was easier for them to lie about it. That would have been an easy answer for me too I suppose but there was a small problem. I HAD read the report. And I couldn’t just say that I had not read it.

A little white lie is still a lie.

Theft is theft-whether it’s $1, $1,000, or $1 million. Or even a bootleg copy of a video.

“The respect that leadership must have requires that one’s ethics be without question. A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the gray areas.”
— G. Alan Bernard

Who Said Experience is the Best Teacher?

This particular quote/proverb has been repeated for hundreds of years and it is no more true today than when it was first created. Experience itself teaches us nothing.

There are so many people that have spent 20 years at their job. And yet, they don’t have 20 years of experience at all. They have one year’s experience 20 times. These people often want to get paid more because they have been employed there for so long. They may have been there a long time but they don’t know anymore than someone who has been there one year.
“But she is more experienced.” No. Just experiencing something does not mean that you have learned something from it. And as Will Rogers has pointed out, some of us can learn from the experiences of others; others cannot.

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
-Will Rogers

I remember a magician performing a particular illusion in his magic show. As a professional magician myself, I knew how it was done but by the end of his routine, so did everyone in the audience. Unfortunately the door of the illusion accidentally swung open and exposed the inner workings.

I felt so bad for him at the time but then I read an article that reported the same thing happening at another show. I later found out that it had happened a number of times. Here we have plenty of experience but no learning.  He was more experienced but had learned nothing. Maybe experience isn’t such a great teacher.

Experience alone teaches us nothing. We need to look at it and learn from it. It is only by evaluating our experiences that we can learn from them. What went wrong?  Why?  What could I have done better?

That doesn’t mean JUST learning from our mistakes. We can learn from our victories as well. A good football team looks at game film after every game; win or lose.

Experience is NOT the best teacher; evaluated experience is.

Do you take time out daily to reflect on the experiences of the day?

Do you take time out weekly to reflect on the experiences of last week?

Are You More Interested in the Role or the Goal?

“Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader…They set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role – always about the goal.”

That that may sound funny because if your goal is to get the role then it’s about both the role and the goal.

There are times that a leader gets to a position who never set out to be there. It is then that they can concentrate on the goal.

I was District Governor and a member of the National Board of Directors for the Kinsmen and Kinette clubs of Canada. However, I did not set out to be the leader. I came on to the District Board in a low level position to work with a friend who wanted to help the District and to raise the level of leadership. But my friend changed jobs and moved out of the Province so the National Board appointed me. That gave me a real opportunity to work towards our goal.

Jim Collins author of the book ‘Good To Great Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t’ did a study of good businesses that became great businesses.

They wanted to make sure that the concepts they developed came directly from the data itself. They did not start with a theory and try to prove it. They built it all from the evidence.

Collins kept insisting that the team ignore the CEO/leaders but his team kept pushing back. “No! There is something consistently unusual about them. We can’t ignore them.”

Collins would respond that the other companies also had good leaders.

Finally—as should always be the case—the data won.

Jim found that,

“The good—to-great executives were all cut from the same cloth. It didn’t matter whether the company was consumer or industrial, in crisis or steady state, offered services or products. It didn’t matter when the transition took place or how big the company. All the good—to-great companies had Level 5 leadership at the time of transition. Furthermore, the absence of Level 5 leadership showed up as a consistent pattern in the comparison companies. Given that Level 5 leadership cuts against the grain of conventional wisdom, especially the belief that we need larger-than-life saviours with big personalities to transform companies, it is important to note that Level 5 is an empirical finding, not an ideological one.”

Jim goes on to describe Level 5 leaders.

“Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.”

Level 5 leaders have ambition to be sure, but it is ambition for the goal and not the role.

The greatest leaders are not the big name celebrities, but rather leaders who are often shy, giving credit to the team. They do not allow it to become about them. They are a “paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”

They are not the Hillarys and the Trumps of this world. Most of these great leaders didn’t want the spotlight on them at all. It was more about the company than about them. Can we say that about our leaders today. Think about who we have running for election in the United States. In both cases, it is about them. And before we get too smug up here in Canada, think about the selfie king we put in charge.

All past evidence has shown that none of these people will be remembered as great leaders. And the most telling sign is their desire to BE leader and to have the power.

What is the difference you want to make?

Stop Treating People Equally

Here is one of the dumbest quotes I have ever seen.


Treat people equally & don’t use double standards. Peter Moore

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to treat everyone equally.

Equal does not equate to fair.

My grandson has Aspergers syndrome together with sensory processing disorder. He likes to wrap himself up like in a cocoon. He wears hoodies that zip all the way up and cover his face. When he was younger he used to like to sit under his desk in school.

The problem was that the teacher didn’t like this and complained to us one day.

“Eshtonn seems to prefer sitting under his desk” My answer was a simple question. “And?”

“Well he can’t do that.” “Why?”

“Because if I let him then I will have to let the other children do it too” “And?” I asked again.

You see I looked at it this way. This was something that Eshtonn needed right then. If other children also suffered with sensory processing disorder than they may benefit from sitting under their desk. Or, they would try it for a bit, not like it and get back in their desks. Really a win-win from my perspective.

“Well, I have to treat all the children the same.” Now, I wanted to let her know that she had picked the wrong profession but I held my tongue. I wanted to ask her if she thought that the child in a wheelchair was also expected to skip rope in gym class. That would be equal, but no one in their right mind would think it was fair. But again I held my tongue because she needed more of an education than I could provide.

There is nothing as unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.

I NEVER treated my employees equally. We used a different approach and that was to treat everyone fairly, not equally.

Which employee should get a break?: The one who shows up early every day and works late or the one who does the bare minimum to get by? Equal treatment would not allow me to make that decision fairly.

We hired a couple of college students one summer.  John was always on time.  Actually, he would come early and start packing things up.  Near the end of the day he would be dropped back at the office.  Instead of just jumping into his car and leaving, he would come in and find work to do until 5:00pm or later.  He was a hard worker and a self starter.  He got a raise that first summer and we hired him again as soon as he was finished college. I don’t remember what happened to the other student because he didn’t give us as much as John.  And so, he didn’t get a raise and we weren’t waiting for him to graduate.

That is treating people fairly.

Why would any employee give me anything more than the bare minimum if I were to treat them all equally anyway?

In Killers of Dreams, Lilian Smith wrote,

“We in America–and men across the earth–have trapped ourselves with that word equality. Which is inapplicable to the genus man. I wish we would forget it. Stop its use in our country: Let the communists have it. It isn’t fit for men who fling their dreams across the skies. It is fit only for the levelling down of mankind.”

Stop treating people equally and start treating them fairly.

Who Should be the Leader?

Who makes the best leader?

The question who ought to be boss is like who ought to be the tenor in the quartet? Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.  -Henry Ford

Not everyone can sing tenor. I can’t sing at all. The only time I ever sang with a quartet, my microphone wasn’t even plugged in. Thankfully, the other three were so talented, I wasn’t even missed.

But why is it that leadership roles are often given to the wrong people?

For example, you have a group of salesmen and their manager leaves. Someone needs to fill this position. And it usually goes to the best salesman. What a ridiculous idea. The skill set of a salesman and the skill set of a leader are completely different. The job should go to the person who can do it; who has the necessary skill set.

In the above example, no one wins. The sales team is unhappy because they are working for a poor leader. The new manager is unhappy because he is expected to do a job that he has no talent for. And the company is unhappy because their sales are down. Sales are down for two reasons.

  1. They sales team is unhappy
  2. They have lost their best salesman

We see this happen all the time. The only thing the company could have done worse would be to give the job to the person who has been there the longest. Why would longevity relate at all to talent? And yet we see it all the time.

Back in my early twenties I worked for the Provincial government as a survey instrument man. At the time I had earned my commission as a Manitoba Land Surveyor. That meant, that not only was I overqualified for the job I was doing, I was overqualified for the job my supervisor was doing. My skills and abilities were being wasted because of seniority.

The jobs weren’t allocated based on skill sets and ability. They were allotted based on how long you had worked there.

So if leadership roles should go to people with leadership skills, then how am I supposed to get ahead? The obvious answer is to increase you leadership skills. Don’t wait until you are up for a leadership position. Be ready.

Leadership is definitely a learnable skill. Oh, sure there are some people who have a natural talent for it but it is a skill like any other and can be learned. It takes time and it is a process. But it can be learned.

Are You Preparing to Lead?

Are You a Leader?

Or Do You Just Say You Are?

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t! -Margaret Thatcher

I remember working with a fellow once who would tell anyone that would listen, that he was a leader. In fact he would say that he had been called to be a “leader of leaders.” But anyone who knew him for any amount of time realized that it was all in his head. You see a leader is someone who has followers. And even though he always had an excuse for why he couldn’t get people to follow him, his every attempt at leadership failed. It was because for him leadership was all about him and his position.

He had apparently never heard the saying, ‘If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.”   But you can’t influence people just by telling them that you are their leader. True leaders know that is isn’t about them, it is all about their followers.

The fifth law of John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of AdditionLeaders Add Value by Serving Others.

Every relationship, and in fact every interaction either adds to, or subtracts from our lives. The question is; Are you adding or subtracting from the lives of your followers? Are you having a positive or a negative impact on them?

How do you know whether you are adding or subtracting from your followers? It’s actually pretty easy. If you can’t give some evidence of making things better for your people, then you are probably subtracting. 90 percent of people who subtract are not doing it on purpose. On the other hand 90 percent of people who add value do so on purpose.

The bottom line in leadership is not how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.

And it is not dependent on position. You can add value at any position. Take my friend Carey Lauder as an example. He has no employees. He is not in a position of power. And yet he has added value to so many people, in so many ways, that he has gained tremendous influence.

He adds value to others intentionally. He doesn’t do it to gain influence. He just loves to add value to others. Most people don’t add value to others because they are naturally selfish. Most of us are. Carey is not selfish. And he adds value to so many people that he not only adds, he multiplies his influence. He is also one of the greatest action photographers in the world.  He photographs many sports teams, both professional and amateur.  In fact, he is my photographer and his pictures are all over my website.

Telling someone that you are a leader will not make it happen. Adding value to others will.
This leaves us with two critical questions:

Are you making things better for the people who follow you?

Can you show evidence of that?