Defining greatness is damn near impossible, is it not? Like describing the different spectrums of beauty, the idea of greatness is rather subjective based upon who you ask and what they consider to be of noteworthy significance. Financial success, academic prowess, high levels of social status, or having a tangible impact on the lives of others...All of these goals could be considered "great".
But as we think about greatness and how it relates directly to motivation, it's important to understand what it is that we are motivated to accomplish. What exactly are you so passionate about becoming "great" at? What idea, thought, or dream burns inside of you each and every day, begging to be unleashed? And then, once you've identified this idea, how do you go about accomplishing those goals?
Lewis Howes, the creator and host of the popular podcast "The School of Greatness", recently published a book that brings together eight key ideas from the dozens of men and women he has interviewed on his podcast over the past few years. From these successful visionaries, Lewis has learned how they've accomplished their goals, led tens of thousands of people towards a centralized idea, or overcome tremendous adversity to craft their own version of greatness.
This book, The School of Greatness, was an eye-opener for me as I go forward with my own goals and dreams. Of all the books that I've read on personal development, business, or leadership, The School of Greatness stuck out from the crowd because of Howes' ability to see through individual goals and desires. He wasn't providing suggestions based solely on a reader's wish to one day open a business, and he wasn't providing step-by-step guides to help an individual become a better individual. Instead, his book is aimed at anyone who wishes to create positive change in their lives in an attempt to live larger, be more productive, and see positive improvements in their lives and not just their careers. It's a book aimed at improving relationships (Howes actually spends all of Chapter 7 discussing the importance of building a strong team around you), seeing through adversity to create new opportunities, and improving the lives of others through generosity and feedback.
I won't analyze each and every chapter, but there are a few passages that I wanted to share with you. These sections jumped out from the page and snatched my attention. They speak volumes to the importance of personal motivation and the willingness of an individual to push themselves even when they feel the odds are against them.
First: "Create a vision...Without vision, people list things they could do but probably wont."
When I came across this section, I actually read this sentence two or three times because it was so profound for me. Think about this for a moment. How many times have you had an idea you wished to see to fruition or thought of something you've wanted to accomplish, but you never saw it through? How many times have you mentioned a goal to a friend or coworker, only to lose motivation a few weeks later and then feel embarrassed when asked about your progress? It's because you lacked a clear vision. It's because you did not have decisive, detailed goals in place to see yourself through to the end. Motivation may get you started, but a clear vision will keep you on target.
Second: "Greatness is what remains when talent and vision meet adversity--and persist in the face of it."
As important as motivation is when we're striving for success, relentlessness and persistence is just as important. There is no such thing as a straight road as we're traveling towards our goals. We will each face adversity. You may lose your job, or maybe your business goes under after only 12 months. Then there's the possibility that you'll get a divorce or that your business partner decides he/she wants to move on to other projects. Whatever it is, whatever your situation, you will face challenges. And I'll guarantee that, at one point or another, you'll fail. In fact, I hope that you do. Because failure is a step towards success. Adversity teaches us things about ourselves that we otherwise never would have learned. The author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, once said, "It is impossible to go through life and not fail at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all--in which case, you fail by default."
There are dozens of wonderful ideas within Lewis Howes' The School of Greatness, and I could ramble on for another few thousand words about their applicability in your life. But the general idea is this: You are responsible for your own success. If you want to live a large life, one filled with passion, fulfillment, and meaning, do two things for me. First, read Lewis Howes' book. Second, make a decision about what it is that you want with your life and act. Spend time crafting your idea. In your mind, envision exactly what it is that you want to accomplish, as well as the small goals you need to complete to get there. Don't be indecisive and say, "I want this, but this sounds easier", or "I don't know...maybe I'll think about it and do it tomorrow". Just go. There should be no more waiting. Every second that passes is gone forever, so make the most of your time.
This is how we each craft our own version of greatness. To truly be "great", we must be willing to accomplish something that we've never done before. It takes passion, commitment, and the willingness to take risks to get there. But in the end, the best of plans can never compare to action. So take this opportunity and commit to creating your own version of greatness.