Greatness vs. Goodness: A “Mind-Shift” for Visionary Leaders

Today’s visionary leaders who are making this shift in thinking, from “goodness” to “greatness” are inspiring themselves, their team and even their adversaries to greatness. These visionaries have the power to create a world that works for all of us, and they are who the world needs now.

Sadly many well-intentioned leaders, teachers and parents fail to grasp this distinction, and that failure costs them more than they know. Slowly they lose their power to effect real, lasting change in themselves, in others and in the world around them.

First grasping this distinction between goodness and greatness, and then making “the shift in one’s thoughts, words and actions elevates and expands one’s consciousness to a visionary level; thus giving one the power to effect lasting change.


So what’s the difference between goodness and greatness? First let’s make suggest some differences, and then we’ll look at an example.

Approach To Resolving Conflict With Others

– Goodness: The quality of compromising your highest inner guidance, especially when it conflicts with the prevailing moral standards or societal norms.
– Greatness: The quality of acting on your highest inner guidance, even when it conflicts with the prevailing moral standards or societal norms.

Approach To Resolving Conflict With Self

– Goodness: Compromising. The quality of compromising one’s higher values in the face of fear.
– Greatness: Standing. The quality of standing for one’s higher values in the face of fear.

Guidance Orientation

– Goodness: External. Value the esteem of others OVER esteem of self.
– Greatness: Internal. Value the esteem of self OVER esteem of others.

Inner Guidance Model

– Goodness: Position-based. Self = position = me.
– Greatness: Stand-based. Self = stand = i.


– Goodness: Protect me (self as position) and risk i (self as stand) in reaction to fear.
– Greatness: Stand for i (self as stand) and risk me (self as position) in the face of any fear.


Jon and Steve have just been hired as executives of ACME Co. They quickly learn that in their new company being a good executive means following the dictates of the CEO. Both Jon and Steve are hard workers who diligently carry out the orders of the boss. Jon, however is a graduate of an elite institution that included extensive character training. He’s been taught what it means to be a good leader and a good follower.

Both soon hear a vague rumor that their new boss and others are likely cooking the books and stealing from the shareholders. Neither one knows for sure, but they start to sense that it might very well be true. Jon thinks about prying, but would rather not know. If he doesn’t know, how can he possibly get in trouble? And questioning could get him fired. So Jon continues to work as usual, never asking too many questions, and dutifully carrying out his responsibilities.

When the CEO gets busted four months later, loyal Jon adamantly defends the character of his boss, confidently telling everyone that he never knew of any improprieties. He was right, and felt justified. He had stayed within the limits of the law, and within the limits of reasonable business ethics. On top of that, he knew inside that he was a good person and a good executive.

Steve, on the other hand, upon hearing the rumors, inquired into the rumor. Upon obtaining some more facts, he thought there was a good chance that his boss might be doing something unethical and illegal. He thought about confronting his boss, and saw that it might very well lead to his getting fired, or at least being ostracized and passed over for promotion. He felt fear, a lot of fear. He took a stand and faced his fear the next morning, as he confronted his boss. In their meeting it would have been easy for Steve to turn away after his boss eloquently explained his actions, but Steve persisted. He kept facing his fear, and asking the questions that needed to be asked. He was fired the next week for “poor performance.”


There’s a huge yet subtle difference between goodness and greatness. We’re going to dive deep into discovering the power, the skill and the subtleties of greatness inside this course.


On paper, Jon looks like a good executive. Over the years he has kept his jobs longer and has proven to be a “good,” loyal team player. Yet with every choice to compromise his conscience in order to avoid fear and take the easy path to “success,” he loses power. He loses his power to trust himself, he loses the ability to hear the warnings of conscience and while he may win friends, he loses their trust in his leadership.

But it goes deeper than this. It doesn’t matter how much Jon tries to be a good executive, or become “successful.” The less he faces his fear, the less he can see the kind of vision that calls himself and others to greatness.

Steve on the other hand, builds his power with every choice to face his fear. With every choice, his vision, self trust and grip of reality strengthens. He is quickly becoming the kind of leader any team trusts implicitly. Steve lives “greatness.”


The more you stand and face your fear, the more powerful your vision grows.


What can you face in your life today that you’ve been avoiding? What feelings would you have to face to confront this issue or person head on? What would be worth standing for?

Journal about this until you are inspired to take that stand. Then take it, and journal about your experience. The more you see yourself taking stands like this, the more you see what?


Anyone can muster the courage to face a tough situation now and again. It’s another thing to have facing be a way of life. What would it be like to not just live courageously, but to always be facing, always standing?

How can you take a stand such that you feel called from deep within? Where can you go to get conditioning in facing and standing–not from a place of sheer guts–but from a deep inner feeling of being called to be “the one?”

Michael Skye

Post Author: mark

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