This post is about achieving greatness. What is it we have to do to become great? And is greatness about achievement, or is it deeper than that?
I used to think that to fill my life with meaning, I have to do something incredible. To start a charity fund, to create a future classic, to found a company that will solve a burning problem – that sort of thing. And sure, the people with such accomplishments are often impressive – it takes will, determination and courage to reach for incredible heights and make it.
However, just having an enviable track record may not be what makes a person great. You can do something impressive and still leave a dark mark on humanity. For example, did you know that Alfred Nobel, a philanthropist who has established the famous prize in his own name to reward accomplishments in sciences as well as in establishment of peace, was in fact a head of an arms manufacturing company and the inventor of dynamite?
What’s more, even if you are a good person who has nothing to do with arms and explosives, and you have been successful in your public life, your achievements are still not what you are appreciated for by your friends, family and colleagues. It’s your heart that matters.
As years go by, it becomes clearer and clearer that the people who have truly touched my life and ones I sincerely want to call great are those who were giving of themselves. Not just materially – they were generous with their kindness. Some of them are long gone, but the memory of being in the presence of their kind heart is what makes me and dozens of other people love them to this day.
It’s not achievement of an external credential of enough weight in the world that creates happiness inside you and those around you. But being genuine with people, and bringing a bright disposition into the room when you come in, is what everyone around you truly benefits from, every day.
You can still choose to spend days in pursuit of exciting goals, of course. You may decide to build a whole career around helping others, or to volunteer and raise money for charity in your spare time, or you may want to pour all your energy into raising your children to become beautiful, kind adults. You can also compete for awards, train to beat a Guinness Record or write an international bestseller.
No matter what you do, all your external pursuits don’t matter too much. What people hold dear and value beyond any achievement of yours is your essence, which you show in how you treat others.
Be kind, and people will welcome you into their hearts. This is how you touch lives of others and become the greatest version of yourself.
Enjoy your journey!
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