The curse of gradual improvement

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

Gradual improvement can seem like a good plan, until you choose it over dramatic improvement.

Jim Collins, author of the classic book, Good to Great, wrote that “Good is the enemy of great.”


His point is that choosing “good” over “great” is a serious strategy error.


Indeed, settling for moderate victories can mean forfeiting massive success.


I teach presentations skills, but I don’t work with clients who want to gradually improve. I’m paid to deliver big results fast and it never works out well when I care about someone’s success more than he or she does.


Big results are fun! It’s so much more rewarding to make quantum improvements that get drastically different outcomes.


Anyone can pick up a speaking tip here and there. If you pick up one presentation tip a year, you’ll gradually become a better speaker over the course of your career.


Or with a little effort, you can immerse yourself into the art form and get better results fast.

It’s good to have a bias for action.


Time waits for no one


[Below is the video version of this post that you can share with others. Yeah, we know that the image of the book is backwards, thanks.]

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The speed of personal improvement is a choice, really. So go ahead. Take your time. Pursue gradual excellence if that’s what you want to do.


But know that while you’re staying put in your comfort zone, others are mastering the art of presentation.

That’s why others on your team will be promoted before you.


That’s why you don’t win more bids. It’s can also explain why the competition has more market share.


Avoid gradual improvement


So, if you’re a leader or a salesperson, you can become a better presenter a little at a time for thirty years or get really good right now and reap the rewards for the rest of your life.


To me, it’s an easy decision, but many people choose the slow route.


Detroit Lions’ quarterback, Matthew Stafford chose incremental improvement for years. Then he stepped things up by getting a coach.


If you’re interested in getting good fast, let’s jump on the phone together and see what’s possible.


What are your thoughts on gradual versus quantum leaps? Why do some of us settle for gradual improvement or even none at all, when it comes to making presentations?


Please comment below.


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