“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.” -Jim Collins
Every person can be the best in the world at something.
Isn’t that invigorating?
There is something you can do better than literally any single other person alive.
Many people don’t believe this is true.
Their vision is too small to see it. They think they know all the categories, and they’re already taken. Mark Zuckerberg has taken the “social media” category, Warren Buffet has taken the “investing” category, etc.
This oversimplification is a grievous error. Anybody can achieve greatness, should they choose to. The path might not be traditional or easy to map, but it’s there.
There are two reasons why most people will never achieve greatness.
First, finding your unique, best-in-the-world talent takes time and energy to find.
Second, once you find that talent, it takes more time and energy to develop it.
Most people just don’t want to put in the time or energy.
Sadly, many people will never really know what their unique talent is. The world suffers because the rest of us will never get to see that person in action. Most people will rarely ever get into the “flow” state that occurs when you do what you were meant to do.
But anybody can develop this life, starting at any age.
“For many people, the power of their excuse is more powerful than their dreams.” -Robert Kiyosaki
Most People Won’t Ever Be Successful
“A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.” -Jim Rohn
Most people will never achieve true greatness in their life because they don’t want to put in the work. Finding your gifts is long, arduous work, as is developing it.
For most people, “good” is “good enough.” They find something they’re decent-enough at, and make a living at it. It doesn’t matter if they don’t find their day-to-day work satisfying or fulfilling, as long as it pays the bills at the end of the month.
Take a frank look at your life right now.
Is it simply “good?”
Or worse — is it merely “good-enough?”
The answer for most people is yes.
Living an extraordinary life is rare. It requires being open to putting in intense self-work and personal investment. Although the work can be exhausting, even putting in a small amount of time each day (like reading development books) can have an enormous impact over time.
Would you say your life is extraordinary?
If not, what does an “extraordinary” life look like to you? What do you need to do to achieve that goal and make it a reality?
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.” -Mark Manson
What Greatness Looks Like
“A man’s wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.” -James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
No one — not this article, your spouse, your father, celebrities, movies, or society — can define what “greatness” looks like in your life.
True success can only be defined by you.
But there are certain practices and fundamentals of achieving true greatness that are common to everyone.
In the words of Benjamin Hardy:
“To be successful, you can’t continue being with low frequency people for long periods of time.
You can’t continue eating crappy food, regardless of your spouse’s or colleague’s food choices.
Your days must consistenly be spent on high quality activities.
The more successful you become — which is balancing the few essential things (spiritual, relational, financial, physical) in your life and removing everything else — the less you can justify low quality.
Before you evolve, you can reasonably spend time with just about anyone.
You can reasonably eat anything placed in front of you.
You can reasonably justify activities and behaviors that are, frankly, mediocre.
As your vision for yourself expands, you realize you have to make certain adjustments. You need to cut-back on spending all of your money and time on crap and entertainment. You have to save more, and invest more in your education and your future.
The more successful you become, the less you can justify low quality. The more focused you must become. The more consistently your daily behaviors must be high quality — and increasingly higher quality.”
The more you evolve into a better, greater version of yourself, the less you’ll be able to continue tolerating the people, behaviors, and environments that defined who you used to be.
Greatness is investing in yourself, and tirelessly making right actions to continue your evolution. No part of your life can remain untouched — finances, friendships, diet, career, TV shows, behaviors — all must be examined and filtered, over and over.
What is holding you back?
What is working?
What is keeping you from reaching your next evolution?
The individual who commits to this constant evolution will soon realize their unique, best-in-the-world talents.
It will not be easy. But the results will be extraordinary.
“The pain is kind of a challenge your mind presents — will you learn how to focus and move past boredom, or like a child will you succumb to the need for immediate pleasure and distraction?” -Robert Greene
Greatness Starts Small, Yet Grows Exponentially
“We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.” -Medieval worker’s creed
Before you even walk the path of greatness, finding the path takes large-scale effort in itself.
Many people choose to not explore this path because they think it’s a futile effort — either they’ll never find it, or it’ll already be taken.
The truth is, achieving greatness is truly a rare occurrence. Ironically, the competition is far lower in higher planes, because most people spend their time and energy competing with the enormous crowds of the majority.
Most of the competition isn’t that hard to pass. With a few lifestyle tweaks, you could probably make it into the top 5% — 10% of performers in your area.
Everyone you see around you is dealing with the same doubts, difficulties, and challenges you are. They’re all in the same boat as you.
Most people’s lives aren’t structured for optimal creative expression. Most will quit long before they ever really begin, remaining mediocore at what they do.
Compete with your heroes.
You’re not that far behind.
No one is incredible at first. More will be revealed to us over time. Like babies learning to walk, we must stumble and fall before we can sprint.
Greatness comes in layers, over time. Just like amassing enormous wealth or building an empire, the first steps towards greatness are shaky and uneven. We go in circles before we get it right. The trick is to keep going, even if you end up right where you started.
“Don’t worry about the output when you’re trying to build momentum. Instead, just get yourself to do whatever you feel you need to do.” -Benjamin Hardy
Greatness Requires Changing Bad Luck Into Good
“The good player is not the one who always wins, but the one who plays a poor hand well.” -Frank Crane
We are not all dealt great hands.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t become extraordinary and achieve greatness anyway.
So many people complain that iconic successful people had gifts and opportunities that aren’t available to everyone, which is the reason for their success. “Sure, if I had that connection and money and pedigree, I would be rich and famous too,” they whine.
But this is a flimsy excuse.
Isaiah Thomas is a 5' 8" NBA player, the shortest player in a league dominated by 7-footers. This past season, Thomas had one of the greatest, most historical seasons ever by a player. Despite his size, he finished 3rd in scoring points per game, and nearly won the MVP award.
Financial guru Robert Kiyosaki started an ill-fated nylon wallet business that eventually failed and left him nearly one million dollars in debt. Since then, his books and curriculums have earned him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Jim Carrey was homeless for some time in his childhood, and dropped out of school to work grueling hours at a tire factory to support his family. Despite his obstacles, he later became one of the most famous actors alive.
Many people don’t have obstacles even a fraction as daunting as these individuals, yet people like Isaiah Thomas and Jim Carrey didn’t make excuses.
Like all massively successful people, they thrived in turning bad luck into good.
Most people see their life only as it is — a jumbled mix of less-than-fortunate circumstances that prevent them from being successful. But achieving greatness requires you to transform your bad circumstances into productive ones.
“So let not a young man be discouraged if he has committed follies; for there seems to emerge a peculiar and vivid wisdom from error, from making an ass of oneself, and all that, more useful to one’s own life than any wisdom he can get from sages or books.” -Frank Crane
“Some of the greatest moments of one’s life are not pleasant, not successful, not known, and not positive.” -Mark Manson
Greatness is a choice anyone can make, every day.
Sadly, most people will continue choosing “no” until it’s too late. They miss golden opportunities because they didn’t want to put in the work to seize it.
Achieving greatness requires ingenuity, hard work, and committing to consistent personal evolution.
We all have bad luck — the ones who choose to turn that into good fortune are the ones who will experience true, lasting success and greatness.
“The mediocre have a very narrow perception of reality, and in turn, their lives. They see things as they are, not how they can be.” -Aditya Mehta
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