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Jim Collins: Can Discipline Lead to Better Choices?

Greatness is a journey.
TNCR Staff

At the Nordic Business Forum in 2014, Jim Collins, a distinguished author and leadership researcher, explored the importance of not only studying success but also understanding the stark contrasts between success and failure, resilience and collapse, as well as greatness and mediocrity. He highlighted the significance of examining the divergent paths of similar companies—how, despite starting from the same point with equal resources, some achieve greatness while others do not.

Collins elaborated on the notion that greatness stems from deliberate choices and disciplined efforts, rather than sheer luck or favorable circumstances. He debunked the myth of greatness being an inherent attribute, presenting it instead as a journey that organizations and individuals can consciously embark on.

Internal Choices and Discipline

He compellingly argued that the journey from good to great, or from stability to thriving in chaos, is driven by internal decisions and discipline rather than external factors. This shifts the emphasis from seeking optimal conditions to developing a mindset and practices that foster excellence.

A critical component of sustained success, according to Collins, is the “flywheel effect.” He described the relentless push required to move a heavy flywheel—initially challenging but gaining momentum over time. This metaphor underscores the value of persistence and the incremental impact of small, consistent actions.

Greatness as a Choice

Through extensive research, Collins distilled a key insight: greatness is a conscious choice that requires disciplined effort, not just the result of situational benefits. This challenges conventional wisdom on success and emphasizes the role of personal and organizational choices in achieving greatness.

The Wrap

Collins’ presentation is a call to action for leaders and organizations to shift their focus inward, concentrating on their own choices and discipline as the main drivers of success. This perspective is crucial for those aiming to achieve and maintain greatness, offering a new lens through which to view challenges and opportunities in any domain.


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