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by Paul Kiser

Tom Peters is one of the most annoying people in the world.  I say this because people are usually annoyed by a person who is always right and Tom Peters is almost always right.  For decades he has been scolding business, mocking those who excel at mediocrity, pointing out companies that are doing it better, and generally being relentless at not accepting the status quo in the corporate world.  Sure he gets paid big bucks to chastise organizations and industries to their face, but that doesn’t mean they like him.

Tom Peters book, Re-Imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age

After almost 30 years of spelling it out for executives and business leaders that they are doing it wrong, he still makes a great living from ranting at the corporate world.  The reason is simple.  It’s not because it is difficult to take his advice.  It’s not because Peters asks the impossible.  It’s not because the corporate world consists of stupid people (well, maybe a few).  The reason Tom Peters is able to continue his assault on business is because he offers the perfect commodity:  Common sense in a nonsensical world.

The problem is a fear of Greatness.  Most people seem to be comfortable doing good work and live in terror of risking failure by going for greatness.  Case in point:  Government.  Right now most State, County and Municipal governments are operating under the assumption that they have failed and the only thing they can do is plan for more failure.  You can’t do great things when you have decided you’ve already failed.

Jim Collins book, Good to Great, talks about how great companies have a realistic view of the challenges they face AND at the same time those companies are absolutely certain that they will succeed.  Taking the lessons learned from Collins research, greatness involves; 1) great AND humble leadership, 2) getting the right people in the right positions AND getting the wrong people out, and 3) confronting the facts, no matter how stark, AND believing that success is possible.

Tom Peters has shown repeatedly that we fall into traps of mediocrity and that’s the alpha and omega to squandering a great opportunity.  I am constantly amazed at how many people have never read Peters and can’t figure out why business seems so hard to understand.  I am more amazed at those that have read Peters and still don’t get that ‘good’ is never going to be ‘good enough’.