Personal Growth

Why you should rinse your cottage cheese

How good are you at rinsing your cottage cheese?

An odd expression to be sure, but one that I’ve found myself thinking about more and more often lately.

I first heard this phrase as an illustration from author Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, which I recently finished reading. This book is the culmination of years of research, in which Collins and his team took an in-depth look at what enabled mediocre companies to rise above and become enduring great companies. Their findings have important implications not just in the business world, but in our own personal lives as well.

A key finding of the Good to Great research team was that in order to achieve greatness in one’s life, you need a fanatical commitment to discipline.

Collins tells the story of Dave Scott, the world’s first six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. Throughout his competitive career, Scott showed an almost obsessive amount of discipline in his daily training regimes. He even went so far as to rinse his cottage cheese, so as to remove any excess fat from it before he ate it.

Who does that??

Six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champions do that, apparently.

Throughout his book, Jim Collins started using this phrase, “rinsing one’s cottage cheese,” as an analogy for strong discipline. “Greatness,” Collins said, “is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

This is a great follow-up to the story I published on Tuesday about PFC Desmond Doss. On the surface, there was nothing great about Doss. He did not come from a good family, and he was not particularly handsome or talented.

Desmond Doss became a great man, however, because he chose to be one. He exercised extreme discipline in the areas that he cared about, refusing to be deterred by any challenges or obstacles that were thrown at him.

Good is being disciplined most of the time, and satisfied with that effort. Great aspires for higher and more consistent levels of discipline, because greatness demands extraordinary practices to achieve extraordinary results.

Doss was not an Ironman, nor did he ever aspire to be one. There are many ways, however, to rinse one’s cottage cheese. How are you rinsing yours?

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