In college I had one of the hardest accounting professors you could imagine. He was a young guy, probably only a few years removed from the classroom. He had great rapport with students, but his class was hard.
He was one of those professors that you sweated bullets going into his class if you were not fully prepared, because if you were not, he would find a way to point it out. He was the only professor that I had who scheduled his exams for 7:00 at night, because the allotted class time was not enough to work through the problems. And he was the professor that everyone loved, but everyone dreaded his class.
However, let me be clear; people dreaded his class because it was challenging; it was possibly the hardest class in the school. Yet at the same time this professor was a great teacher and he genuinely cared about the students who walked through his door.
A few weeks into the new school year, I was in class and received my first graded exam back. On it was a grade, and in red ink it stated “come see me in my office this week.” I stared, a little paralyzed, and wondered what in the world he would say. I had made a “C” on the exam, so I was thinking, “surely someone else has done worse than me…”
As soon as I could, I went to visit the professor in his office. I sat down, and asked him why he wanted me to come see him. He simply looked at me and said
“Brent, you got a C, and at the end of the day that is not bad. However, I have been watching you and I know you are better than that.”
That was about it – the conversation couldn’t have lasted longer than 4 minutes.
As I left his office, I just pondered what he said. I could not shake it from my head. I wondered if he were right. I wondered how to get better at accounting. But as time went on, I realized it was much more than accounting; he was teaching me that I am capable of great things, if I work at it. He realized potential from watching me over the course of a few weeks, and he saw that I was choosing to not live to that potential.
I learned a lot from him that day, but what I learned the most is that we have an incredible opportunity to speak into the lives of people we lead, correct them when needed, and inspire them to live to the potential that they were created to live up to.
That day, my professor called me out on poor performance, but at the same time he also called out my potential to be much greater than what I was doing.
How often do we let things go when we do okay or just enough to get by? How often do we as leaders let things get by that are okay when we know our team can produce something greater? How often do we miss the opportunity to speak into those around us?
Don’t settle for okay. Don’t let others settle for okay. Let’s be great and call out the greatness in those around us.
Question: How do you keep yourself from settling for ‘okay’? What motivates you to be your best?