Monday, February 1, 2010

How to be Great

*According to NY Times Bestselling author Jim Collins. (No relation.)

My husband is a big reader. Not of fiction, mind you. He told me once that he likes to read books that are "useful" and "actually teach me something about the world." As is, not fiction. You can imagine, I had a hotly worded response.

But I digress. I wanted to tell you about a book he's been reading which I have actually found surprisingly "useful" as well. The book is the huge bestseller Good to Great by. Jim Collins. (Again, no relation. I only wish.)

Basically, the book chronicles Mr. Collins' study of the top, or Great, companies in America. He carefully analyzes and breaks down why these companies make it and others don't. What they have that others do not.

Now, you may be wondering if I am planning to make a venture into business. To that, I would say, aren't we all? The business of writing. In fact, as my husband and I have discussed much of the book, I keep likening it all back to writing. And it fits quite well. It's rather fascinating. Therefore, for the rest of the week, I plan on sharing some of the things I've learned from Good to Great and analyzing how that applies to us, the writers.

Just to start the week off, I'll leave you with one tidbit that really struck me in my current situation. One of the attributes that Mr. Collins noticed every single Great company having is what he calls the Stockdale Paradox. (And just try to tell me this doesn't relate to writing):


Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties AND, at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Facinating, isn't it? And oh, so relevant to us writers. What I think is so interesting about it is that it's advice we've all heard before, and yet it's clearly more than just quaint sentiment. According to hard research, it's the mentality of winners.

More from Mr. Collins tomorrow.


Becca said...

Brill Ren. And as I always like to find...its is also SO applicable to dating as well.... ;)

Ren, it comes back to our many chats about gotta believe it WILL happen. But I like the added part about facing the "brutal facts" about your current reality....thats the hard part - facing them with out starting to feel hopeless. one much to think about....sigh! And thanks ;)


Mary Campbell said...

Wow! good advice, but so hard to keep that faith. I'm looking forward to more tips on the Business of writing.

Tere Kirkland said...

This is great advice! Easy to remember, but sometimes difficult to implement.


giddymomof6 said...

Ooh! That is awesome advice! i LOVE IT! I can't wait to read tomorrow.


Candice said...

There definitely seems to be a certain "mentality of winners" as Collins (the one not related to you :)) puts it. And it is paradoxical if you think about it. I like his philosophy.

Renee Collins said...

Becca-Indeed, the parallels. And yes, the hardest part is finding the balance of facing those realities and not getting bogged down. (I sure don't know how to do that very well. :) )

Mary-Very hard! Like I said in the comment above, I'm not so great at this skill yet. But it's a good goal to try for.


Jenny-It's true. That Jim Collins is a smart one. :)

Candice-So true. And the interesting thing is, you wonder if that mentality is one you can gain over time, or if you just kind of have to have it from the start. I think you can gain it over time, but it takes a lot of effort to do so.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love it! Thanks so much for sharing this, Renee. You're right - it is so applicable to writing. :)

V. S said...


That is the answer.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I'm sorry I can't take him seriously. You called him Mr. Collins.

Miriam S. Forster said...

Bwahahaha, I agree with Jessie. You must call him something else because now my brain keeps going "Oh Mr Collins!" in a frustrated British voice.

That aside, I think that mentality is one of the hardest things to do. It's surprisingly difficult to think "Hey, I got three form rejections this week but I can still do this!"