When Loyola informed Portuguese Jesuits that “no commonplace achievement will satisfy the great obligations you have of excelling,” he created heroic expectations that could be met only through change and innovation on a dramatic scale.
By way of illustration, imagine any modern corporate setting. The manager who sets an expense reduction target of 10 percent gets his team wondering where to buy cheaper pencils: 10 percent means safe, mainstream thinking. An expense reduction target of 40 percent, however, is “no commonplace achievement” but a heroically ambitious target that requires outside-the-box thinking. With this goal, no one is thinking about cheaper pencils anymore; it’s time to conceive radically new ways of doing things.
The heroism that gripped Jesuits led to the same radical thought patterns.…The tradition of thinking outside the box began when Loyola himself jettisoned the centuries-old model of religious life to invent a completely new kind of religious company.
—Excerpted from Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney