Are You Good or Really Good?

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In any endeavor, whether it is a business, hobby or just routine, there is a spectrum of efficiency. This means you are adequate, pretty good or maybe even superb at whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Everyone knows someone at their lube shop who is really good at what they do, looks clean and presentable, is great with customers and is always ready to answer just about any question. They are skilled and comfortable using all the tools and equipment in the shop and consistently have the highest customer satisfaction along with the healthiest of sales numbers.

Is that you? Are you the one in your shop others look to for guidance and inspiration? Are you the guy who comes to work and always has a great, productive day when others are complaining, “Nuthin’ but cheapskates today; they just ain’t buying.”

If you are, congratulations, you’ve made it to the top! The question is what’s really at the top? The point is there is no top, no ceiling to how much you can improve your skills and performance, even if you are the best in your shop or company. If you compare your performance to those around you, you may be the best within that group, but the truth is, you are then using someone else’s standards of performance and achievement as your benchmark for excellence.

There is an artificial limit many set on themselves without even thinking about it. It just comes naturally to those with limited imaginations.

The true and authentic achievers of greatness throughout history have always and only ever had one person’s greatest successes as their goal to beat — their own!

That’s right. The only record that matters when trying to set new ones is your own personal previous best. Nothing else really matters when it comes to achieving greatness.

Once you grasp this concept and fully embrace it, you will begin to enjoy wildly new and amazing achievements, while giving you a quiet and internal sense of satisfaction, leaving those around you with a sense of awe and wonderment at how you can do it.

As my friend Amber Kossak likes to say, “If better is possible, then good enough is not good enough.”

Now when it comes to being really good, there are those who seem to have a natural ability for whatever it is they are doing. They seem to be able to easily accomplish things others have to work at. Of course, there are those that do work at getting something done with all their effort and ability, and these types also frequently achieve a fair level of success, albeit through a lot of effort and hard work.

When I say really good what I actually mean is greatness.  To achieve greatness in any project or goal requires more than luck and natural ability.

Oh sure, many can have random days of fantastic results filled with easy-going interactions with your customers, high car counts and great ticket averages. Maybe you just had one of those days where you woke up in a great mood, the sun was shining and everything clicked. Sometimes, you just have a great day. But that surely did not happen because of all the things you did. No, unless you have a day like that every day, you are merely, pretty good, with a fair amount of luck thrown in. If you are satisfied with being pretty good with a little bit of luck thrown in every now and then, you have reached the limits of your achievement — your own personal glass ceiling.

You may achieve some steady, acceptable progress in your life this way and can live a very content and satisfying life. But you will never achieve the level of greatness very few do. You will never enjoy the wildly fantastic results of your greatness either. You will not stand alone. You will blend in with the masses.

However, if you truly want to achieve greatness in anything you do, you can! Simply tell yourself you are going to do whatever it takes for you to get there — and mean it. Great people do not achieve greatness, ordinary people who do great things do. I am an ordinary person. You are an ordinary person. Neil Armstrong was the first man to ever set foot and walk on the moon. That is a great achievement. Armstrong was not a great person, he was an ordinary person who achieved greatness through lots of effort and tremendous dedication.

If you want to be great, you need to incorporate all four of the following concepts into what you do:

·       PMA

·       Natural Ability

·       Technique

·       Self-Discipline


Simply put, you must have a positive mental attitude (PMA). You have to train your thought processes to look for and recognize the positive, uplifting things you encounter throughout your day. You must dedicate all your thoughts to this from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment your head hits the pillow at night.

You must be actively enthusiastic about your day, not lethargic and lazy. To be enthusiastic, you must act enthusiastic. What the body does, the mind follows.

It is 100-percent a matter of mental discipline. You must get your mind in the habit of thinking positively. It does not come naturally for most people. It is too easy to focus on negative things — they surround us everywhere all day long. Do not focus on negative thoughts. Deal with them as quickly as possible, and put them aside. They are the killers of your PMA.

Your PMA is a treasure to be taken care of, a vault full of the most valuable riches that can be imagined. It is the basis for all greatness that will ever come into your life. You must protect it with all your ability. Do not let anything or anyone “neg you out” with depressing, negative influences and emotions. Misery loves company. Do not become part of that company.

Natural Ability

Everyone has some natural ability to do certain things. Some people are gifted in certain areas. But no matter how gifted anyone may be at anything, everyone possesses the ability to learn how to do anything they set their mind to. It just comes easier to some.

Contrary to what may seem logical, those who possess an amazing natural ability to do a particular thing are typically not the ones who end up achieving greatness in that endeavor. The reason is because their great natural ability unknowingly encourages them to develop their most devastating weakness — a lack of self-discipline.

Because many who show their gifts early seem to be so good at it, they don’t recognize the need to continue to grow, develop and protect that ability. They take their natural gifts for granted, never realizing they are merely stepping-stones to help achieve greatness. Ability is not greatness, only a small portion of it.

Those who have a lot of natural ability tend to be very good at it without thinking too much about it. They bask in the glory of being good at something, without ever really understanding what it is or why they are so good at it. It’s a double-edged sword, because on good days, they never really know what they did right to achieve it, and on bad days, they never know what they are doing wrong and can’t begin to correct their mistakes, so they write it off as having a bad day.


Technique is the great equalizer to natural ability. Technique is the mechanics or the mental disciplines behind any process. Technique is not natural. It is learned. When you learn a technique, you develop a skill.

When you practice a technique until it becomes your habitual performance, you acquire consistency and repeatability. That is where greatness comes from — consistent and repeatable performance.

Understanding and learning the technique behind anything allows you to clearly see specifically when you are doing it right — or when you need to improve some aspect of the overall performance or presentation. Without the many hours and hours of practicing your technique, you will never achieve greatness in anything.


This is a no-brainer. I mean a lack of self-discipline generally makes others look at you like you don’t have a brain. Self-discipline is simple, yet can be hard. It is your ability to make yourself do the things you don’t want to. Eating right, exercising regularly and being financially responsible are all forms of self-discipline. Eating chocolate cake and ice-cream while sitting around watching TV and buying new toys for yourself may seem indulgent and fun, but isn’t in your best long-term interest.

Self-discipline enables you to do the work today so you may enjoy the fruits of your labors tomorrow. Self-discipline is a form of integrity. Doing the right thing is easy when you are being watched, but what do you do when no one is looking? That’s a trick question because someone is always watching, and that someone is you!

You must have the self-discipline to learn your techniques, maintain your PMA and make the effort to put them into practice all day, every day.

See ya’ next month!

KIT SULLIVAN is a partner in a multi-unit, Florida-based quick lube company. A 20-year veteran of the industry, Sullivan has more than 28 years experience in sales and management training. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. He can be reached via email:

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