This weekend’s Parade magazine features an interesting interview with mega-star Harrison Ford.

To my surprise, Ford spends little time talking about mega-ness or stardom. Instead, the carpenter-turned-actor offers some very keen insights on human motivation, especially the elusive and frustrating nature of mastery.

“When I was a carpenter, I once worked with this Russian lady architect. I would tell her, ‘Look, I’m terribly sorry, but I want to change that a half inch,’ and she would say, ‘No limit for better.’ I think that is a worthy credo. You keep on going until you get it as close to being right as the time and patience of others will allow.”

No limit for better. Good advice for a Monday.


Speaking of no limits, my talented friend Elizabeth Marshall is hosting a free 1-hour interview/teleclass tomorrow (Jan. 12) at 1pm EST, during which I’ll be talking about some of the ideas in Drive. Sign up here. It’s free!

10 Responses to “Quote of the Day: No limit for better”

  1. Thanks! I’ve been coaching a client on adopting a “good to great” ethic / vision in their organization. “Better” is a great way to sum it up, and it doesn’t hurt to have Indiana Jones behind it.

    By the way Dan, if you get a minute I’d love to get your answer to the “spotlight question”: “What do you do?” on I can’t wait to find out what you say after a few free agent career re-inventions. I’m pretty sure you’re beyond “try not to barf on elected politicians.”

  2. C. A. Hurst says:

    Hey Dan,

    Finished the main body of “Drive” and I’m reading the Toolkit portion right now. Awesome book.

    A thought on Mastery: My parents started our whole family downhill skiing when I was 11 or 12 years old. By the time I was in high school I was pretty advanced and liked nothing better than catching the last couple of runs of the day. Talk about flow! In the groove with the mountain, the weather, the slope and the snow. Linking one turn into another with a bazillion little physical adjustments all happening on auto-pilot. Always a new nuance to learn or try out, always something new to adjust for better performance. Interesting how we learn invaluable lessons in oblique ways. The lessons I learned about “No limit for better.” on the ski slopes were far beyond anything I learned in classroom.

  3. Paul C says:

    ‘No limit for better’ is also a great credo for students. It helps teachers justify all the re’s: revisit, revise, rethink, remix, renew… until you get it better.

  4. Douglas Eby says:

    Director James Cameron refutes being labeled as a perfectionist: “No, I’m a greatist. I only want to do it until it’s great.”

    While a drive to perfect your work or yourself can fuel excellence, it can also be an obsessive emotional force that helps encourage insecurity and dissatisfaction, and undermines healthy self esteem.

    From my post

  5. Doug Shaw says:

    Interesting observation. I believe that having chosen to do something worthwhile, you must practice, practice, practice to achieve the mastery, the shift from good to great.

    This is even more important if you discover a talent for your chosen activity. For talent is nothing without practice, practice, practice.

    Thanks for the post – Doug

  6. Awesome advice. That could apply pretty much to any aspect of life, whether it be blogging, a sport, gettin’ jiggy wid’ it or just being a friend. You keep going for as long as the why is strong enough to you.

  7. Adrian says:

    I really think that this is an excellent quote, I’m hoping it will inspire me to keep going for a better result. Plus I like Harrison Ford 🙂

  8. Albert says:

    I listened to your great, very informative interview today in Somerset West, South Africa, which I downloaded via Elizabeth Marshall’s newsletter, visited your website and immediately placed an order for Drive at my local bookshop. Should be reading it next week.

    The world is small.

  9. Carol G says:

    Immediately when I saw Harrison Ford in the photo in his work coat I thought – he looks like a carpenter. [He was discovered while working on the set of Star Wars] If you are a good carpenter, you are good at visual things, good at planning, you love to be in flow, and you must make things fit perfectly: naturally he has the qualities he needs to perfect the craft of acting.

    • Lee says:

      I am a fan of both men. I recommend Dan Pink (and Dan Gilbert, and Carol Dweck) to almost everyone I know that works in Education. Their meta-studies of the human condition and motivation are informative and practical. One tidbit of nitpicking for Carol G. Harrison Ford was an actor long before Star Wars. In fact, he worked with George Lucas on “American Graffiti”. He also has a bit part in “Apocalypse Now”. The story is Ford was a very popular carpenter and often worked in Hollywood (even worked for the Doors) and Lucas saw him working one day and asked him to audition. I think Kurt Russell and Christopher Walken were also auditioning. Maybe discovered is not the right term. I’m not out to offend or argue, just an observation. Have an amazing day, it’s entirely up to you.