The difference between “Great” and “the Best” is much like the difference between “really fast” and “the Fastest.” Though things have changed since 2008 — the Bugatti Veyron is no longer the fastest production car in the world — there’s a gem of a principle at work here in this all-time classic Top Gear video:
The Veyron is about pushing the outside of the envelope. It’s about doing things that people said just were not possible. This car is a sort of Concorde moment.
Getting a car to do 155 mph frankly isn’t really very difficult. The Veyron needs just a piffling 270 hp to reach that speed. But 253? The faster you go, the more Mother Nature tries to hold you back. So, to do the next 100 mph — the 100 mph that takes you up to 250 — needs another 730 hp.
All with the finest leather, air conditioning, stereo, and air bags.
For most people, 155 mph is faster than they’ve ever gone before. To get to that level of performance (and we’re not talking about driving anymore) would be a huge achievement in itself … and very satisfying. But then what? To achieve a 65% increase in performance, you need to increase the horsepower of effort by 270%. Who thinks that’s a trade-off that makes sense, especially when 155 mph performance is already so good?
The Great Ones do, that’s who.
Greatness is measured not by the ROI of effort put into the project, but by the raw excellence of the final output. It’s the willingness to expend so much more effort to move from “really good” to “the best” than it took to become “really good” in the first place that defines Greatness. Too many people assume “the dip” is about the low point of failure. It’s not: it could be a perfectly good, objectively impressive level of performance. It’s just not “the best,” and that level of performance lies at the top of the arduous climb on the other side of the dip full of “good enough.”
Greatness can be yours: go find your extra 730 hp and “give it the beans.”