Pursuing greatness is not just trying to be better than everyone else. It’s not just aspiring to that which will impress others at your college reunion. It’s not an approval you can earn, or a status you can reach, or a title you can land.
Achieving greatness means entering a lifelong commitment with yourself for growth. That means having the guts to look the beasts that haunt you squarely in the eye again and again and again.
Most people think that becoming an accomplished individual means just inundating your mind with inspirational fodder and convincing the world you’re up to something important with perfectly hashtagged productivity posts.
In reality, the people who are actually chasing greatness are less concerned with making the world believe that they have already “made it,” and more concerned with actually doing the heavy lifting, the hard work of becoming a better person, not just someone with a few more accolades.
True greatness is a holistic thing. It’s being as happy on your own as you are with friends. It’s being as fulfilled on Saturday afternoon as you are on Monday morning. It’s not resisting some feelings and chasing others. It’s letting yourself be as you are, and developing that person into what you know you’re capable of.
True greatness is not being able to force your demons away with willpower. It means being able to invite them in, listen to them, gain wisdom from them, and release them. It means being willing to embrace that life is not always kind, it is not always easy, and it very rarely looks the way we thought it might. The people who chase greatness don’t see any of that as a reason not to try.
Few people achieve greatness not because they lack talent, drive or ability, but because they lack grit, resilience and the willingness to grow from pain.
Yes, there’s a lifetime of wisdom to be gleaned from the people who have already found success in their lives. We are nothing if we do not consistently and continually learn from one another. But hearing someone give you advice and the hard work of actually doing what they say are two different things.
Being excessively positive and driven alone will not get you to where you want to be in life. You will inevitably come face to face with the reality that pursuing greatness has a lot less to do with what you’re good at, and a lot more to do with how you handle that which you aren’t.
There’s a saying for athletes, which is that the workout doesn’t start until pain arrives. The same is true for personal development.
If you really want to pursue greatness, be willing to work with your shadow selves, delve into the most unbeautiful truths about you, and embrace them. It is to take every part of you, not only the palatable ones, and turn them into a whole. It is to continue to grow, even when you’re already good. It is to continue to seek, even when you’ve already found. It is to continue to try, even when you most want to lay your head down and let the work be done.
True greatness is not something you earn eventually. It’s something you commit to every day or don’t. It’s not somewhere you arrive, so they say, but the way in which you get there.