The True Meaning of Greatness

This is what everyone acclaimed “great” has in common

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

My aim for you is not to be entertained through these words. And of course, I don’t want to offend. However, I want to communicate what you need concerning success and life.

Conventional wisdom tells people to be tolerant of every disdain the other person or the society puts up. They celebrate this kind of tolerance as a virtue. Meanwhile, the very opposite of this creates success and makes one great.

Think about a great person you know of. Think of someone that is history because your judgment will be clouded by sentiment if you think of someone in the generation you are.

Now I want you to think about 3 core beliefs you know the great person has. Take this seriously. Write them down if you can. And be very honest. If you don’t know, pick someone else that you know. You may not agree with those beliefs, but just point them out.

Now consider the generation and time that great person lived in. Were those core beliefs popular or the norm? Were those core beliefs as a result of social pressure? Were they as a result of coercion or popular demand or crowd chants? Were they as a result of the beliefs of the celebrities in their day? I don’t know who you are profiling, but I can guess your answer to all of those questions is NO.

Great people are outcasts or outliers in their day

Consider Shakespeare, his genius was recognized widely after his death. What about the philosopher who insisted the world is not flat. Even more recently, Steve Jobs. A number of those who worked closely with him thought of him as an alien.

What about Nelson Mandela? I read his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. Today he is hailed a hero but when he was performing those heroic acts you can be sure it wasn’t conventional wisdom.

Greatness is not in being popular today. Greatness is how you will be thought of 200 years from now. Think of Abraham Lincoln, the most adored US President. He didn’t even win the presidency by popular vote. And he has already lost several elections before that. I can almost say that greatness is the opposite of staying with the popular ideas. If some of the things Lincoln said then were said today, there would be a media meltdown. But if Lincoln lived today, he wouldn’t have cared anyway. In fact, I heard Lincoln was not “loved” by the public until his death.

Every one of the great people you can think of was controversial in their days

And they were not controversial to conform with popular ideas or trending styles. They are controversial based on their own beliefs. What they know and prove to themselves to be the right course of life.

Greatness means controversial

If you are afraid of being labeled, hated, misunderstood, misinterpreted, you are just not ready. It is harder to be great today because there are more platforms to beat conformity into people (especially at a young age). The school system wants to tell people what to believe and give little room to think for themselves.

So, if you want to be great; question everything, listen to all sides of the argument, prove that which is right (for yourself), live it and express it without fear.

This is your recipe for greatness.


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