Good to Great pt 2- How Good is the Toughest Enemy to Great

As noted in my last post on this theme, we are discussing Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great. It comes from a 5 year study of public companies, with a team of 21 researchers, to determine just what makes companies great.

In this series, I’m applying his principles to LDS concepts.

“Good” is the toughest enemy of “Great”

Under this concept, we can consider the following:

  First, the great General Conference talk given in October 2007 by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, entitled “Good, Better, Best”.  In this discourse, Elder Oaks notes that often we settle for that which is good or better, rather than seeking for the best:

“In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. “The thing I liked best this summer,” the boy replied, “was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked.” Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent….The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.” Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.”

In determining Good versus Best, we can consider whether an activity is Telestial, Terrestrial or Celestial in its focus. A relationship can be a good thing, but if it is based solely on physical attraction and sex, then it is likely to be a Telestial relationship.  Marriage between two committed people can lift us up to a better/Terrestrial experience, while the sealing of a family in the Temple of God is simply the best option and the only Celestial option, out there.

Quality and quantity need to be considered in providing a best experience. If watching a movie as a family is good, and watching a Church video as a family is better, perhaps spending time interacting in wholesome activities would be best.

Sometimes how we choose to use an activity or item can determine whether it is good, better or best. While there is nothing wrong in playing video games, per se; allowing such playing to prevent a person from attending church, or going to college or a trade school can truly make the game bad for the person in the long run.

As Elder Oaks noted:

“To our hundreds of thousands of home teachers and visiting teachers, I suggest that it is good to visit our assigned families; it is better to have a brief visit in which we teach doctrine and principle; and it is best of all to make a difference in the lives of some of those we visit. That same challenge applies to the many meetings we hold—good to hold a meeting, better to teach a principle, but best to actually improve lives as a result of the meeting.”

And when it comes to meetings, I’m not convinced it is necessarily “good to hold a meeting”, if a quick phone call or email suffices and keeps mother and father home with their kids more.

For family time, Elder Oaks explained:

“Stake presidencies and bishoprics need to exercise their authority to weed out the excessive and ineffective busyness that is sometimes required of the members of their stakes or wards. Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their “divinely appointed duties.”

But here is a caution for families. Suppose Church leaders reduce the time required by Church meetings and activities in order to increase the time available for families to be together. This will not achieve its intended purpose unless individual family members—especially parents—vigorously act to increase family togetherness and one-on-one time. Team sports and technology toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth. Surfing the Internet is not better than serving the Lord or strengthening the family. Some young men and women are skipping Church youth activities or cutting family time in order to participate in soccer leagues or to pursue various entertainments. Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.”

Clearly, there is a need for us to seek the best, and not just settle for good.  We cannot build a Celestial Zion if we are all too occupied with Telestial or Terrestrial activities.

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