If you are like me who grew up in a loving home with parents, aunts and uncles who wished the best for you; you probably received repeated messages of how great you were and how you were going to have a great impact on the world in the future. This was certainly my experience. To add fuel to fire, I was the child of religious parents who would constantly tell me of the several prophecies that were spoken over my life and all the magnificent things I would do when I grew up. Well, I am a grown man now and I have only seen a glimmer of what was spoken over me as a child. The greatness that I should be stepping into has not been realised (yet).
But what is greatness anyway? Most of us have formed our ideas about greatness from our teachers, parents, the film industry and the media in general. In many ways we believe it’s the achievement of some esoteric goal that will lead to fame or some esteemed position in society. Well at least that’s how I viewed greatness many years ago. I now believe that to be a very narrow minded and naïve view of the concept.
I currently believe that greatness is not a matter of achieving, but a matter of actively being. You are great when you unreservedly deliver you to the world in a way that only you can. Of the over 7 billion people on the face of the earth there never was and never will be someone with your exact physique and life experience. You bring to the plate what only you can in the way only you can.
The sad reality is that many of us have chosen to be carbon copies of others because we devalue what we have to offer. That’s where many of us get it wrong. It was Albert Einstein who said “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid.” Too many of us are fishes trying to climb trees.
To be great, be authentic. Endeavour to do what the God of creation put you on the earth to do. Mark Twain put it succinctly, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”True greatness is doing you the way no other human being can.
Here are what I believe are the three keys to genuine greatness:
1.Embrace the fact that you are enough
Whether you believe it or not, simply being a part of the human race makes you ‘enough’. It’s not your accolades, your position in society or even your benevolence that makes you enough — the fact that you are even here is a miracle and that alone deems you as worthy. Armed with the knowledge that you are enough, you won’t feel pressured to prove yourself and with it will come the freedom to simply be. Knowing that you are enough gives you the confidence to bring your gift to the world. With this self-concept you no longer engage in competition and comparison, but humbly hone your craft for the sole purpose of delivering to the world what the master put you in it to deliver.
2.Embrace your uniqueness
For many years I questioned why I had to go through some of the struggles I experienced in my former years. I would wine about how far ahead I would be financially and how many hours were wasted in emotional turmoil. However, now older and wiser, I have learnt how to leverage my former dire experiences to my benefit. Through my experience I have learnt lessons that many will never learn in a lifetime. You see, your uniqueness does not only encompass your physical and personality traits. It also includes your story, all the life experiences that have been unique to you. The truth is, in life you only fail if you fail to learn the lesson. If you believe that nothing happens by chance and a greater being is guiding your life, then understand that all you have been through is preparation for the work that you have been put on the earth to do. Embrace the lessons and use them as catalysts to deliver you to the world the way only you can.
Steven Pressfield in his book the ‘War of Art’ describes resistance as “a repelling force…that aims to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” Even if we embrace our uniqueness and the fact that we are enough, that’s certainly not enough to overcome resistance. We all face resistance. It will always rear its ugly head when we attempt to do anything worthwhile. Resistance is often clothed in the excuses we give ourselves for not doing the work: ‘it can wait till later’, ‘I am not in the mood’, ‘I am tired’, ‘I don’t feel inspired’…and the list goes on. The thing about it is many of us are not even consciously aware of resistance. The way to defeat resistance is to make friends with it. Get to know it. As the old adage says ‘keep your friends close, but your enemies closer’. Resistance is certainly your greatest enemy when it comes to delivering your gift to the world. But if you get to know it well and understand its ability to sabotage all that you have worked hard to accomplish, you will know how to flow with it. Note I said ‘flow with it’, because resistance never leaves, but as you get to know it, you can listen to its voice without obeying its instruction.
You have a mission to accomplish before you die. Don’t waste your time fulfilling someone else’s dream or being a mere carbon copy of individuals pursuing their purpose. Make the effort to discover your own and bring it to fruition by embracing: the fact that you’re enough, your uniqueness and the resistance that will be ever present.