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Jim Collins Quotes

James C Collins

Jim Collins quotes: the A List author’s very best advice.

“Dreams make you click, juice you, turn you on, excite the living daylights out of you. You cannot wait to get out of bed to continue pursuing your dream. The kind of dream I’m talking about gives meaning to your life. It is the ultimate motivator.”

“A dream is a feeling that sticks, and propels.”

“People need BHAGs: big hairy audacious goals.”

“Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning, and through your day with a spring in your step.”

“The start of the New Year is a perfect time to start a ‘stop doing’ list and to make this the cornerstone of your New Year resolutions, be it for your company, your family or yourself. It also is a perfect time to clarify your three circles, mirroring at a personal level the three questions: 1) What are you deeply passionate about? 2) What are you genetically encoded for? (What activities do you feel just ‘made to do?’) 3) What makes economic sense? (What can you make a living at?)”

“Those fortunate enough to find or create a practical intersection of the three circles have the basis for a great work life.”

“If you have more than three priorities then you don’t have any.”

“Discover your core values and purpose beyond just making money (core ideology) and combine this with the dynamic of preserve the core (stimulate progress).”

“Profit is like oxygen, food, water, and blood for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them, there is no life.”

“What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?”

“Indeed, the real question is not, ‘Why greatness?’ but ‘What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?’ If you have to ask the question, ‘Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?’ then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.”

“Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment.”

“Visionary companies make some of their best moves by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and—quite literally—accident. What looks in retrospect like brilliant foresight and preplanning was often the result of ‘let’s just try a lot of stuff and keep what works.'”

“First figure out your partners, then figure out what ideas to pursue. The most important thing isn’t the market you target, the product you develop or the financing, but the founding team.”

“Recruit entrepreneurial leaders and give them freedom to determine the best path to achieving their objectives.”

“Some managers are uncomfortable with expressing emotion about their dreams, but it’s the passion and emotion that will attract and motivate others.”

“If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. I’d put off everything else to fill my bus. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

“Discipline is consistency of action.”

“When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance.”

“Purpose (which should last at least 100 years) should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies (which should change many times in 100 years). Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it is like a guiding star on the horizon—forever pursued but never reached. Yet although purpose itself does not change, it does inspire change. The very fact that purpose can never be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress.”

“Change your practices without abandoning your core values.”

“How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?”

“Innovation without discipline leads to disaster.”

“A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.”

“Creativity dies in an indisciplined environment.”

“When you marry operating excellence with innovation, you multiply the value of your creativity.”

“If you want to achieve consistent performance, you need both parts of a 20 Mile March: a lower bound and an upper bound, a hurdle that you jump over and a ceiling that you will not rise above, the ambition to achieve and the self-control to hold back.”

“You need self-control in an out-of-control world.”

“You can’t manufacture passion or motivate people to feel passionate. You can only discover what ignites your passion and the passions of those around you.”

“Whether you prevail or fail depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.”

“Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.”

“The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive.”

“I am not failing, I am growing! Do you have the ability to reframe failure as growth in order to achieve your goals?”

“Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.”

“The essence of profound insight is simplicity.”

“Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup.”

“The critical question is not whether you’ll have luck, but what you do with the luck that you get.”

“Don’t be interesting; be interested.”

“How can you succeed by helping others succeed? We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed.”

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

“Resiliency, not perfection, is the signature of greatness.”

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

“The only way to remain great is to keep on applying the fundamental principles that made you great.”

“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.”

“The difference between a good leader and a great leader is humility.”

“The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.”

“The moment a leader allows himself to become the primary reality people worry about, rather than reality being the primary reality, you have a recipe for mediocrity, or worse. This is one of the key reasons why less charismatic leaders often produce better long-term results than their more charismatic counterparts.”

“By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average.”

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led—yes. But not tightly managed.”

“Letting the wrong people hang around is unfair to all the right people, as they inevitably find themselves compensating for the inadequacies of the wrong people. Worse, it can drive away the best people. Strong performers are intrinsically motivated by performance, and when they see their efforts impeded by carrying extra weight, they eventually become frustrated.”

“First, who… then what. We expected that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats—and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage ‘people are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”

“The secret to a successful retirement is to find your retirement sweet spot. The sweet spot is where your passions, what you do best, and what people will pay you to do overlap.”

“Perhaps your quest to be part of building something great will not fall in your business life. But find it somewhere. If not in corporate life, then perhaps in making your church great. If not there, then perhaps a nonprofit, or a community organization, or a class you teach. Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be, not because of what you will get, but just because it can be done.”

“When what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”

“For no matter what we achieve, if we don’t spend the vast majority of our time with people we love and respect, we cannot possibly have a great life. But if we spend the vast majority of our time with people we love and respect—people we really enjoy being on the bus with and who will never disappoint us—then we will almost certainly have a great life, no matter where the bus goes.”

Related: Stephen Covey quotes.

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