Pleased But Not Satisfied: A Leader’s Mindset

By Greg Herring
2 people enjoying a winter hike on a snow covered mountain.

There is a new year ahead of us.


It is common for people to feel stressed or overwhelmed at this point in the calendar year. After all, the nights are longer, the days are shorter, and the world seems a little colder and darker. (As I mentioned in my last post, there’s always a light in the darkness, if you know where to look.)

As we transition from one year to the next, I like to contemplate the things my team and I have accomplished in my business and plan for our success in the year ahead. You might like to do the same with your own business.

I’ve worked with a lot of business leaders over the years, and I can tell you that the success of a company begins with the mindset of the owner or CEO.

One accomplished CEO told me that as he was pursuing changes in companies, he reminded himself and his employees to be “pleased, but not satisfied.” As long as the people in the company were making progress, he wanted everyone to be “pleased.” But because there was always more work to be done, he did not want everyone to be “satisfied.” 


He modeled that phrase and I try to do the same.

If the CEO is never pleased or satisfied, he will wear out his people – there is no opportunity to celebrate progress.

If the CEO is always pleased and satisfied, he will not lead the company at a pace that it needs to be led. People will not be challenged to innovate and improve.

That leaves us with a nice balance – being pleased but not satisfied (assuming the team has made real progress). 

That phrase has helped me because I tend to forget to celebrate the victories; instead, I focus on what’s next. That is a tough way to live. 

So here’s my New Year’s wish for you: As you reflect on this year, I hope you will be pleased. As you consider next year, I hope you will not be satisfied.