WIN Wyoming and WIN the Rockies
Moving from good health to great health
Highlights from book by Jim Collins
Glen Whipple, Director of the Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, highly
recommended reading the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. While my copy
of the book was sitting on the kitchen table waiting to be read, my nephew
walked by and said, "Donít you need to read the first book?" At
first, I was impressed my nephew knew about Jim Collinsí first book, Built
to Last. When I asked my nephew how he knew about the first book, he gave me
one of his famous blank stares and then said, "No, I mean the book YOU need
to read before you read this one, you know, the book called, Getting to Good."
My nephewís dry humor aside, I finally finished reading Good to Great and
I want to share some of the highlights from the book with you. Jim Collins and a
group of researchers set out to determine key factors associated with greatness
in select U.S. companies. Their findings have direct ties to help us understand
how we can move from "good health" to "great health."
- Greatness is not a function of circumstance. It is a matter of conscious
choice (page 11).
- A former prisoner of war helped the researchers discover a key to
greatness far more than any of the corporate strategies that were studied.
The secret? Maintain an unwavering faith that you can and will prevail,
regardless of difficulties that arise along your path (page 13). The author
also refers to this trait as "ferocious resolve" (page 18).
- In todayís corporate world, much emphasis is placed on the importance of
new technologies. New technologies are not new. Previous generations
have all faced new technologies. The arrival of electricity, telephones,
automobiles, radios, televisions, computers, etc. of all made dramatic
impacts. How a company (and a person) chooses to implement new
technologies is key to greatness, not the relentless chasing of new
technology (page 15). A constant reliance on new technology is a liability,
not an asset (page 159). Great companies became pioneers in the application
of carefully selected technologies (page 162).
- Almost all leaders in the great companies studied were not
larger-than-life heroes. On the contrary, they were seemingly ordinary
people producing extraordinary results (page 28). The leaders displayed
workmanlike diligence and were more plow horse than show horse (page
- Great companies did not have a perfect tract record. But on the whole,
they made many more good decisions than bad ones (page 69). To move from
good health to great health, you do not have to make perfect health choices
every time. You do need to make many more good choices than bad ones.
- Life is unfair. Sometimes you get a lucky break you donít deserve, and
sometimes you deserve a break and donít get it. The important question is
whether you come back from difficulties weakened, or stronger (pages 85,
- One of the key factors to greatness is the ability to take a complex world
and simplify it. The key is not to become a simpleton, but rather to have
piercing insights that allow you to see what is essential and ignore the
rest (page 91). Current nutritional advice and research can be very complex,
but the principles of good nutrition are very simple.
- You can not motivate yourself or others. You can discover what ignites
your passion (page 109).
- When it comes to greatness, "stop doing lists" may be more
important than "to do lists." Systematically unplug things in your
life that keep you from greatness (page 124). Remove the extraneous junk in
your life (page 139).
- Although discipline is important for greatness, discipline by itself will
not produce great results. The research team studied plenty of companies
with tremendous discipline that marched right into disaster with
"precision and in nicely formed lines" (page 126).
- When it comes to achieving greatness, there is no single-defining action,
no solitary lucky break, no killer innovation, no revolution, no miracle
moment. Greatness is a cumulative process achieved step by step, action by
action, decision by decision (pages 165, 169). It is much harder to remain
great, than it is to become great (page 204).
Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and
Other Donít. New York: Harper Collins Publishers; 2001.
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
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