What does it mean to be great?
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Why greatness is often misunderstood
To me, greatness encompasses all areas of life and includes the types of thoughts we have, the words we use, the way we interact with others, the way we make others feel, they way we keep ourselves accountable, the discipline we demonstrate every week, the nature of our relationships with people, the strength of our connections, the sort of goals we have, our habits, our self-worth, the depth of our empathy and compassion, the energy we emit, and the sort of people we strive to become.
Exactly - it's not as simple as being very good (or even the best) in one or two fields.
For greatness to be sustainable, it needs to be a core part of who we are. A person can have decades of experience, but not be great in other areas of life. A person can be the best in their field, but not live life consciously or with grace. A person can win every business accolade, but not treat others with respect. Ultimately, the kind of life we want to live is up to us, and while we can still strive to be great in one area without focusing on others areas, we won't be able achieve greatness in the truest sense of the word. The same applies to people who break numerous records only to get caught up in scandals for thinking, saying and doing the wrong things. Yes, they may be phenomenal in what they do, but greatness as a state of being will always elude them.
Greatness is about our state of being. Who are we being today? Who were we yesterday? Who do we strive to be tomorrow? It takes daily effort, a very acute awareness of all the different components that make us who we are, a desire to constantly learn, an obsession with being better, vulnerable honesty with ourselves when we stray from being the person we want to be, humility to acknowledge when we allow our shadow selves to take over, constant attention to what we think, say and do, a willingness to anchor ourselves to goals that are inclusive of others, and a dedication to always going against the status quo when people around us feel that they are entitled to an opinion regarding our abilities and potential.
The truth is, what people think about our journey has no bearing or significance to it, (irrespective of whether people think good or bad things). We are in control of who we want to be which means that we can improve our outlook in a moment's notice; as long as this is something we choose.
Being great and working towards being the greatest (...version of yourself as opposed to greater than other people), is a choice, and it's a process; not an end destination. For as long as we get to experience life on this Earth, focusing on our state of being is itself an act of greatness ; by raising our awareness to the impact we have on our own lives (mainly through our thoughts, words and actions) and the impact we have on all the people we've ever interacted (and will interact) with, we open ourselves up to a journey of greatness.
As with everything in life, we can choose to do the bare minimum or we can choose to supersede what's been done before.