What Does It Mean To Be Truly Great?

what it means to be great

Do you have a desire to be great? For instance, you may want to be a great parent, businessperson, athlete, chef, painter, writer, doctor, or psychic. Or are you satisfied being ordinary or mediocre?

“Great,” “average,” and “mediocre” are subjective judgments. If used in comparison, “great” can mean you judge something else as “mediocre.” After all, being great is defined as an above-average or extraordinary ability, quality, or eminence.

Only some people aspire to greatness. In fact, I’d guess less than half the population wants to be seen as outstanding at what they do.

But that means they are happy being average. They are content being ordinary and not standing out as excellent.

Average is easy…comfortable even. But if you know you could be and do more…that you could be extraordinary, you’ll end up dissatisfied and regret not trying to fulfill your potential.

The Benefits of Being Ordinary

After completing a Certified High Performance Coaching session recently for my Inspired Creator Community members, I started thinking about this topic. The session was focused on greatness.

I was surprised that some members pushed back on the word “great.” Someone asked, “What if you don’t want to be great?”

Well, that’s a choice, is it not?

Or it’s an excuse not to rise to your full potential. After all, becoming great at anything means working hard to be above average. It’s about doing the 10,000 hours, right?

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about people like Bill Gates, Robert Oppenheimer, and The Beatles, all of whom put in many hours to become the best in their field. This has become known as the “10,000-Hour Rule.” Gladwell claims you have to put in that many hours to excel at something.

You may feel life is hard enough right now, and you don’t have the energy to push yourself to excel. Again, that’s a choice. And maybe you’ll choose differently at another time.

But deciding to be average is also a way to avoid failure. And it’s a way to play small and below the radar so you don’t get judged…for better or worse.

Fighting Against Mediocrity

When I hear the word “great,” I think of Bo Eason. His dream was to be a great football player.

Bo started his career in the NFL as a top pick for the Houston Oilers. He continued on with the San Francisco 49ers. During his five-year career, Bo competed beside and against some of the greatest players of his generation.

After an injury that ended his career, he became an acclaimed Broadway playwright, performer, and international presence/story coach. He has trained with some of the world’s most brilliant performance and movement coaches, logging over 20,000 hours on stage crafting and presenting his personal story.

Bo’s one-man play, which he wrote and performed, is called Runt of the Litter. Since Bo plays the main character or protagonist and no one is on stage with him, it’s common to wonder about the antagonist. His adversary is mediocrity. As he strives for greatness, his antagonist pushes him toward mediocrity.

Being Great Takes Commitment and Tenacity

It’s much easier to be mediocre than great. And for many people, that’s their choice—to be average, ordinary, not as good as possible.

Such people are unwilling to commit to hard work. They want to avoid tenaciously going after their aspirations.

Greatness takes commitment. For example, Bo was the first on the football field for practice every day.

And he didn’t take no for an answer. When he was told he couldn’t play for his college football team, he showed up anyway. That eventually got him a position on the team.

Those who want to be great have a “burning desire” to do something and do it well. But Bo didn’t just want to be good as a football player. He wanted to be the best.

When he was forced to switch careers and chose to become an actor and playwright, he made the same choice—to be the best. And the same could be said of his decision to become a great story coach.

Compare Yourself to Yourself

Some people balk at striving to be great because they don’t want to compare themselves to others. That’s all good if you don’t have the desire to climb the corporate ladder, make first chair in an orchestra, or win an Olympic gold medal. In those instances, you will need at least to know the capabilities of your competition so you can try to surpass them.

In other cases, the competition is with yourself. Greatness need not depend on other people’s abilities or on comparisons. You can simply strive to be the best you possible…or the best you can be at any given endeavor.

You can seek and find an internal sense of greatness. This happens when you know you are doing your absolute best and have excelled beyond average or ordinary. You have won the internal battle against mediocrity.

You may have never heard of Bo Eason. Therefore, you might think, “He’s not great.” But I bet he wouldn’t agree…and neither would those who have come in contact with him. I wouldn’t say his assessment comes from ego, either. He believes he has achieved excellence in his endeavors because he has done his best, put in the hours, and pushed himself to reach higher levels of potential.

Greatness Inspires Greatness

As you attempt to achieve your own sense of greatness, you inspire greatness in others. From my viewpoint as a Certified High Performance Coach, that’s an essential aspect of being great.

For example, great leaders inspire excellence in those who serve under them. The same is true of great coaches, teachers, and speakers.

Maybe greatness should be defined as having high standards and reaching or surpassing them. When you do that, you motivate others to do the same. You help them see what’s possible if they commit, put in the hours, and demonstrate tenacity.

Playing Big

People who are great play big. As Bo would say, they aren’t fans. Instead, they are players. They aren’t in the stands but on the field or stage for everyone to see.

In many cases, being great requires putting yourself out there—often before anyone (other than you) considers you great. And that makes you subject to criticism or judgment. Not to mention being seen as you try, fail, and try again.

Thus, it takes courage to be great. And that’s true even if you only seek an internal sense of greatness. You must take bold action as you grow and stretch toward your highest potential.

Internal Greatness

But external validation of your greatness is not necessary. In fact, the genuinely great amongst us tend to be so because of their own internal meter for greatness. That makes them somewhat immune to outside judgment and all the more committed to performance improvement.

In the end, it’s most important to look inside and judge yourself. Are you doing your best or settling for being average? Do you know you can be great but aren’t doing the work required?

If you put too much value on what others tell you about your performance, you become reliant on their opinions. However, their interpretations are theirs. Yours is the one that matters.

The judges’ opinion are crucial if you are trying to win gold at the Olympics. After all, they determine the winners.

However, suppose you only receive a bronze medal…or no medal at all. In that case, it may not matter to you if you believe your performance was extraordinary. If you know you did your best…and it was better than your last attempt, you’ll feel more than satisfied with your performance. You’ll be a winner in your own mind.

End-of-Life Assessment

Imagine your own funeral. What might you wish someone said about you? Would you like it if they said, “He was a great parent,” “She was a great boss,” “He was a great painter,” or “She was a great friend”? Will you regret not putting in the effort to be great at something that truly matters to you? Might you wish you had played full out while you could?

Being great is a challenge. And challenge is a human drive that makes you feel more alive, helps you operate on all cylinders, and pushes you to be the best you can be.

From a spiritual perspective, I believe your soul pushes you to excel—to express all of yourself. The drive for challenge is your soul asking you to rise to your potential.   I don’t believe you came here this lifetime to be mediocre. Your soul didn’t incarnate to be average or below average.

You were born to be great. If nothing else, be great at being you. Do your best to express your authentic and unique nature.

Do you strive to be great at what you do? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with someone who might find it useful.

Inspired Creator CommunityIt’s time to get inspired…in-spirit…and create what really matters to you, is it not? Join the Inspired Creator Community. You probably already realize that you need to change from the inside out. That’s how you become a person who does the things that allow you to create your desires. As a member, you get access to intuitive transformational coaching, world-class personal growth coaching, and strategies for living a life that feeds your soul. And you will discover that you are a powerful creator able to create what you want (not what you don’t want). Join now!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Free Video: How to Live a Life that Feeds Your Soul

Free Soul-Alignment Session

Do you:

  • know you can be or do more?
  • dream of living a more fulfilling life?
  • wish you could feel more spiritually connected?
  • want to make a bigger difference?

Let's chat about how to get you from where you are to where you want to go.


Sign up for a 15-minute session below.

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap