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Achieving Greatness

Written by | August 25th, 2009

Over the years I have searched, much like many others, for the methods by which I can achieve recognition and praise; after all, who doesn’t want accolades for the things they achieve, for the goals they reach and the toys they possess. Isn’t that what drives our constant need for competition?

Lets look at how sports figures all across the world compete for that elusive crown of victory. Athletes are willing to put aside sleep, pain and family for the prize of achieving that ultimate goal at being a winner, to be great at what they do. There is no mountain too tall, no ocean too deep and no river too wide that will keep them from working toward that pinnacle. Frequently we hear how football players continue to force themselves to strive on despite having a torn ligament in a knee, something that would bring the toughest person down, but somehow, they push through the pain and continue. There are baseball players that seek to achieve greatness through the use of injections and supplements designed to increase muscle mass to improve their game, and yet, many of these sports figures, great in their own mind, fail to achieve what they want most.

In the political arena we have politicians who sell out their constituents for the promise of power and fortune, but in the end they end up despised and even hated. The ever increasing nature of divisiveness in politics has created but a few “statesmen”, the rest simply slip into obscurity for eternity, failing to reach that goal of being remembered for grand achievements.

Even in families and the workplace we have folks who go about their daily activities looking for that next grand scheme that will propel them into fame, that will grant them riches and glory, but alas here again, the vast majority of these fail to reach their goal.

Considering that my own life experiences has taught me a lesson or two or a hundred, I have to look back and see what I did that was so different from those who have achieved greatness, at least as far as I can tell. To do this I have to consider what kind of greatness I am observing. As best as I can tell, there are two distinct ways to achieve greatness as is defined by popular culture.

The first, which isn’t really greatness at all, is notoriety, being known for doing something that others have not, or would not. In this category, we have all sorts of people who believe they have achieved the reward. To see this, one need only look at people like Nero and Caligula, Dahmer and Kaczynski, Osama and Atta

The second, which is probably the more classic example of greatness, has people like Washington and Jefferson, Ghandi and Mother Teresa, Marino and Babe Ruth, and others who throughout their lives made it a point to do what they love and love what they do. To achieve greatness in the minds of others, to reach that lofty place where others would admire and respect their achievements. But what each of these have in common is not that they achieved greatness, but rather that they did so without the expectation of accolades .. ok maybe Marino and Babe Ruth wanted accolades, but it is a nice sentiment, and from all indications they took particular interest in their fans, something lost on many folks today.

So after all of this, if I haven’t lost you, the real question is; “How can I achieve greatness?” – it is achievable, but it isn’t easy. Remember those ball players who play through pain, you will have to play through your adversities as well. You will have to seek out those things that are blocking your goals and move beyond them, put them aside and reach for that elusive mark, but even then that mark is unsatisfying if you have not done it for the right reasons. There is one quality that supercedes all in the quest for greatness, and that is the motivation behind such a journey. If you are seeking greatness for the sake of greatness, then you are doing it wrong, however, if you are not seeking greatness, but you are doing what you believe in for the sake of others, you will achieve it.

If you ever remember anything, make it this:
Greatness is not achieved through self-promotion, it is achieved through purposeful and meaningful service to others.
If you hold to that truth and follow it faithfully, your greatness will precede you and others will know you without you having to tell them, that is how to achieve greatness.
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2 thoughts on “Achieving Greatness

  1. markross

    Indeed, we all want to be appreciated; it is human nature; however, one has to know what motivates them to do what they do; and what they they hope to achieve or gain from doing it.


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