(2 minute read)

“Your past is not your potential” (Marilyn Ferguson)

Early morning walks during lockdown 6.0 here in Melbourne can become familiar – if not repetitive – whilst remaining within our respective 5km loop. So, it was refreshing to hear a phrase that was new to me while listening to my regular podcast (The Learning Leader).

Podcast Host, Ryan Hawk, was interviewing author Jon Gordon about, “How To Be A Great Teammate”. Amongst the many pearls-of-wisdom shared by Gordon, was his findings that great teams are always on a quest to get better.

Gordon, who hosts his own podcast (Positive University), used the phrase Positive Discontent; the belief that while we may be doing ok, we should explore how we can do better.

It is widely accepted in Leadership Coaching circles that there is a potential threat to the individual or team in being content because we can allow our past successes to cause complacency in our lives.

It can prove detrimental to feast too long on the satisfaction of what we have previously accomplished, rather than pursuing new goals or challenges with gusto.

Positive Discontent can be considered as a combination of gratitude and discontent. It doesn’t discount or diminish what we’ve been able to accomplish, but neither does it allow us to rest on our laurels.

Positive Discontent allows us to enjoy what we’ve achieved, without the attendant danger of becoming complacent, or overly self-assured.

Successful businesses and teams have been using a similar thought process for years in their ‘quest for better’.

Japanese industrial giant, Toyota, have adopted the principle of Kaizen for years. Kaizen loosely translates to Continuous Improvement.

The airline industry is constantly striving to shave unnecessary weight from their aircraft in the quest to decrease costs and improve efficiency. (One US-based airline famously removed a single olive from each of their in-flight salads, reducing costs by $40,00 USD per year!)

This drive from teams and businesses to do better than before can also be translated into our personal and professional lives.

It’s the poke-in-the-ribs we all need to help address the question; “How good could you be?”


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