The first thing that came to mind when asked to write this article was that the first Element of Greatness has to be…
That one does something great.
The people who inspire us in life are the ones who accomplish things we feel are beyond us – beyond our courage or our innate abilities or our willingness to pay a great price. The accomplishments may be the end result of other elements; and elements without a great end result are nothing more than theory.
We thrive on the actual success stories of others, whether it is in sports, politics, business, the arts, or even Hollywood. We dress up like cartoon characters and act like two-year-olds, cheering someone else on to earn millions and get their own star of fame. We dress like those who have accomplished so much. We talk like them; model our lives after their habits and preferences; and will do darn near anything to be in their presence, if even for a fleeting moment.
The Great Accomplishers of our time are our idols, for they are living the lives that we dream of living. Even if only part time and only in fantasy, they are still the fuel of many dreams. So what defines doing something Great? Certainly raising healthy, productive and happy children is a great accomplishment.
Certainly teaching our future society leaders to excel qualifies. And usually, the way we respond to an accomplishment defines it as Great. When we are in awe. When we turn our full attention. When we get that feeling of otherworldliness. When we are filled with the thrill of victory. This is when one of us has done something Great. It is in all of us.
And the Elements to let it out?
- The first precursor to great acts has to be a great Vision.
By Vision I mean a crystal-clear movie, complete with every dimension of reality – from dialog, to sound effects, to the specific emotions that the entire scene creates. A Vision of accomplishing something so extraordinary, that others dare not to even dare. All Great accomplishments start with a clear picture and set of feelings of what it will be like … what it will look like, what it will sound like, and most importantly, what it will feel like for the pursuer (and everyone in their wake) to have it all come to fruition. The greatest men and women in our history most likely came by their Visionary tendencies naturally. Others may want to learn the “art” of it, for all of us can accomplish great things by committing our hearts and minds to it with “no exits” allowed.
- The second precursor has to be communication of the Vision and the rewards of accomplishment.
The Great Ones have usually had the innate ability to communicate their Vision and the resulting rewards to all those whose blood, sweat and tears would be required to pull it off. The Great Communicators have the courage and vulnerability to put their hearts on the line for all to see, hear and feel. For it is the heartfelt connection that rallies the forces, both tangible and mysterious, to come to bear on Vision. Those men and women who can pour it on with a passion, and listen with every fiber of their being, are the ones who ignite others’ spirits to get the big jobs done.
- The third precursor will have to be Self-Motivation.
That wildly powerful, ever-flowing concoction of genius-like creativity, the eternal optimist, the Herculean-type energy, and the courage of a mother defending her child’s life. Self-Motivation gives us the power to act, and the power to attract that which we need to bring our Visions to fruition. Self-Motivation flows in direct proportion to how clear and compelling one’s Vision is in their mind and in their heart. We all bump into it occasionally, and have it in our grasp any time we are creating in-the-moment fantastic results. And, it is the Great Ones amongst us who manage their spiritual state to keep it consistently flowing in abundance, regardless of circumstances, obstacles or immediate results. Motivation is the magic that makes things happen.
- And the final precursor is Courage.
Although a component of Motivation, for me Courage is the component that is continually assaulted in the quest for great deeds. The Courage to face opposition. The Courage to challenge the status quo one more time … after 1,000 times. The courage to face daily failures and stoke your own fires of enthusiasm to get back in the game and lead the way. Courage is simply the ability to see the danger everyone else sees and act anyway, without regard for being in harm’s way. Just think what you can accomplish when you are courageous enough in every moment of the quest.
What makes Great men and women?
- Great Vision,
- Great Voice,
- Great Motivation,
- Great Courage, and
- Great Deeds.
“This, therefore, is a faded dream of the time when I went down into the dust and noise of the eastern marketplace, with my brain and muscles, with sweat and constant thinking, made others see my visions coming true. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.”
– T.E. Lawrence, 1888-1935
Seven Pillars of Wisdom
(Oxford Edition, 1922)
For more inspirational insight to achieve your personal success, read my book Mach II With Your Hair On Fire.