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The Difference Between Good and Great – A Story For Leaders and Teams

Leadership Story – Going From Good To Great – Leadership Development – Team Development

There is a direct correlation between the time you spend on your own growth and achieving personal greatness. I once heard a story that illustrates this point perfectly. It is the story of a grandson who would visit his grandfather’s farm every year. One particular visit to the farm, the boy’s grandfather was preparing to plant a few types of trees that he didn’t already have on his farm. They both went to the local nursery to pick what trees they would plant.

When they got home, the warm, kind, loving, and wise grandfather asked his grandson, “If I plant one of these trees inside and plant one outside, which do you think will be the greatest?”

“I think the one inside will grow the biggest,” answered the grandson, “because it won’t have to deal with the cold winters, the wind, and the burning sun. It will face fewer hard things.”

The grandfather took one of the trees and planted it indoors, and he planted the other outside. He turned to his grandson and said, “Let’s see what happens.”

For several years, the grandfather tended to both plants. It wasn’t until the third year that the boy asked about the trees, having remembered the experiment. The old man took the boy to the tree they had planted outdoors and then to the tree they had planted indoors. “Which of the two trees do you think is greater?” asked the grandfather.

The boy answered, “The outside one, of course. But I don’t know why. It had to deal with so much more than the tree inside.”

“That is true,” the grandfather said with a warm smile. “However, because the outside tree had to deal with so much more, it grew stronger and faster. Do you think it was worth it?” asked the Grandfather.

“Definitely!” said the grandson, “Look at how its branches happily spread out to the sun and the sky.”

The old wise man then taught his grandson something he would never forget. “Learning works the same way, my boy. If you choose to do nothing, you will grow very little and will begin to whither, just as this indoor tree has. If you choose to always take the path of least resistance, you will always be mediocre and average. You will only reach your full potential by purposely choosing to do the hard things, even when you don’t feel like it-that’s called discipline. This outdoor tree needed the hard things to become great.”

With so many competing priorities, taking time for yourself can be difficult. But taking that time is the difference between being great and being average.

This story can also be found in Michael’s new book, “You Are The Team – 6 Simple Ways Teammates Can Go From Good To Great.” The purpose of this book is to inspire all members of your team to be better, to be great. It’s about getting each member of your team to personally commit to the team. More information on the book can be found here. 

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