Here’s another question that might feel even harder: Have you achieved greatness at this point in your life?
What Does Greatness Mean to You?
Some people aren’t sure what achieving greatness means or looks like. It could mean having a positive impact on people’s lives—now and long after you are gone. It could look like being the best at a specific skill, like writing, programming, speaking, or maintaining relationships. Perhaps it means creating work you are proud of. Or it could look like achieving your purpose or inspiring others to fulfill their dreams.
You also might prefer to use a different term. Maybe you are striving to become world-class, the best, or number one.
Your definition of greatness has meaning to you. It could be quite different than other people’s descriptions or definitions, and that’s okay.
My vision of greatness always seems more aspirational than the average person. But I don’t always feel I’m achieving that level. The image I hold of greatness for myself, however, keeps me striving for greatness, keeps me leveling up all the time.
It doesn’t matter how you define personal greatness. What matters is that you step into that vision daily to a greater extent.
Greatness in Other People’s Eyes
You may think it’s not even your place to decide if you are great in any way. After all, others decide a writer, painter, speaker, coach, designer, or dancer, for instance, is great. They judge their work and say, “That’s a great writer (or dancer, speaker, etc.).”
But what they say doesn’t really matter. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you have reached your potential.
Greatness Does Not Equate to Ego
Your desire to be great does not equate to having a big ego. Yes, some people will say you have a big head or think too much of yourself because you aspire to greatness. But a desire for greatness can come from a very humble place.
After all, if being great means creating work that has a ripple effect, thus impacting many people in positive ways over time, there’s no ego in that. Striving for that type of greatness is about service.
Yet, many people don’t feel it’s okay to have large aspirations. It is okay. More than okay, it’s natural.
How to Achieve Greatness
While your type of greatness may be reliant on a certain level of skill, there are some things anyone can do to become great at what they do. These things are universal.
The other day, during a Certified High Performance Coaching session, I asked a group of writers to share with me their best advice for achieving greatness. Here are a few of the tips they included:
- Get a team.
- Make a plan.
- Set aside a time to carry out the plan.
- Practice or put in more time at the skill or activity than others.
- Follow your passion.
- Be authentic.
- Don’t give up.
- Do what you want to do—not what others say you should do.
- Be courageous.
- Trust your vision.
If you implement one or more of these tips, you can become great…or greater than you think you are at this moment.
The 10,000-Hour Rule
I’d be remiss not to mention that achieving greatness means spending a lot of time doing something. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how most people who become great at something practice a lot…10,000 hours or more.
If I consider my son, I bet he has spent at least 10,000 hours practicing dance. I bet I have put in that many hours writing.
I would also bet that neither one of us would call ourselves great…at least not at this moment. We would both agree we need to put in more hours to be worthy of that descriptor.
Are you putting in the hours to become great at whatever you do?
Adversity Breeds Greatness
In There is No Plan B for Your A Game, Bo Eason talks about pockets of greatness. These are places that seem like unlikely environments for producing one or more people who are the best at what they do. Yet, there are locations around the world that produce the greatest gymnasts or soccer players, for instance, despite lack of equipment, money, or world-class coaching.
Why? The people in these places enjoy practice more than performing. They put importance on the amount of time they work towards being great.
And their dream of being the best drives them to overcome any adversity before them. They tenaciously refuse to be average or mediocre. These people willingly give things up, develop new habits, and do whatever it takes to become great—in their own eyes and, then, in the eyes of others.
You, too, can be great at something, despite what you see as prohibitive situations. If you care enough about what you do and being great at it, you will use this adversity to rise to a level of greatness.
Increase Your Need to Rise to Greatness
Eason points out that the greatest leaders rose to this level out of need. The adversity or crisis they faced forced them to become great.
But if you think that only adversity or crisis will, indeed, make you great, you may never reach that goal. You’ll use it as an excuse to remain average or mediocre.
Instead, create the need for greatness. If you feel it’s necessary to become great, that provides the push you need.
No More Excuses
That means you have to take responsibility for becoming great. You have to drop all the excuses for why you cannot be great and, instead, focus on all the reasons why you can.
The first reason is simple: You want to become great.
If you know why you want to become great—the meaningful reason that keeps you striving to be the best at what you do—that provides fuel for your dream.
Then, develop a mindset of greatness. Refuse to give up. Do whatever it takes. Keep your vision of greatness at the forefront, and allow that vision to guide every step you take.
Do that, and, even if no one else ever says, “You’re great,” you will know with certainty that you did, indeed, achieve greatness.
What’s your definition or vision of greatness? Tell me in a comment below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with someone who will benefit from reading it.
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