Good, great, exceptional

Are you okay with just being okay? Is ‘the cutting edge of mediocre’ your aspiration? Doubtful. Everything worthwhile can be categorized as good, great, or exceptional. Books, authors, athletes, directors, movies, accountants—everything.

Exceptional is easy. It’s easy to spot because it’s rare. It’s the child prodigy playing Beethoven effortlessly. It’s the film on Rotten Tomatoes with 90% for critics and audiences. It’s the album that breaks new ground and stands the test of time. You are not exceptional. I am not exceptional. Miles Davis is exceptional.

Great is approachable. Great appears attainable. Exceptional requires extraordinary talent. Great can be achieved through grit. Are you great? I want to be great—or least I thought I did.

You have to be okay with just being good.

Donald Miller stopped me in my tracks with these words. He pivoted from writing memoirs to a screenplay to business books. After business books? Reforming tax law. [blank stare] ‘A good writer can get a lot of great things done,’ Don said. Don doesn’t want to put in the time required to be a great writer like Tolkien or Twain. Don does want to make college, healthcare, and something else I forgot accessible to millions. He can’t be a great writer and do this great thing. Don is willing to sacrifice become a great writer to do even greater things.

Just good can do great.

Suddenly my vision has widened. I’m okay being just a good designer to do bigger things. Are you okay with just being good?