Curiosities of “Good to Great”

Good to Great 1I really enjoy the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.  It’s a book about business. I found it compelling but, even after having read 2/3 of it some years ago, I still often wonder: what does it all mean?

Perhaps I will never fully know.

An M.D. friend of mine told me about the book.  He found that it applied to multiple contexts. Another colleague of mine has been reading it, and I’ve flipped through it several times lately while visiting in his office.

As for myself, I think I’m better at achieving greatness in some contexts than others. In business I’ve little idea of how greatness looks or feels. In work and in life, I’ve achieved things that seem pretty great to me.

Beryl Markham provided the opening quote Collins used in his book: “That’s what makes death so hard — unsatisfied curiosity.”  Of course, we have all heard that curiosity is also what killed the cat.  Striking the right balance isn’t easy.

Defining new goals has always been the biggest challenge for me.  And I see I’m not alone. Defining appropriate goals for achieving greatness requires curiosity and experience.  So many companies are limited by their own success, Collins asserts, that they don’t flourish because they limit themselves to tried and tested approaches that they don’t realize are outdated.  If they do realize it, they usually are unable to shift to new approaches anyway.

Achieving those goals requires skill, perseverance, and steadfast determination.

Good to Great 2

Roadmap to Ireland

Enchanted by Ireland in 2003, I vowed to return to live and work there for a year.  My husband and I had fallen in love with the people, pubs, landscape, food, architecture, music, and even the climate.  (Admittedly, we had false impressions of the climate, since our two-week trip coincided with a “heat wave” where temperatures hit a whopping 75F each day and rain was nowhere in sight.)

I returned home and researched the requirements for becoming a Fulbright Core Scholar.  Securing a Fulbright grant was going to be more difficult than I’d thought, but I did see a possible route to achieving that goal.  I’d significantly improve my chances if I earned architectural licensure and a doctorate.  Over the years, I chipped away at my iceberg — earning a license to practice architecture in 2005 and a PhD in Higher Education in 2010.

I submitted an application to Fulbright right after graduation, but to no avail.  That inital application got kicked out in the first round of competition. I kept chipping away, though.  My second try met with success.  Starting August 23, I’ll be living my dream — and working my finger to the bone — at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Stay tuned to this blog for:

  • Tips on applying for a Fulbright
  • Stories of my adventures Ireland
  • Photographs of “Urban Reflections”
  • Findings from my research at the Dublin Institute of Technology

A picture from graduation day 2010 at The College of William and Mary in Virginia.