“You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.” — Zig Ziglar
Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Shakespeare, and Leonardo da Vinci; what do all these people have in common?
The first thought that comes to mind is that they are “greats”. They are great leaders, great inventors and great artists.
They are not greats because they are famous. It is their greatness that has brought them fame.
The list of names that humanity considers great is endless. But what exactly makes a person great?
What secrets or special qualities does that person possess that others do not? Is it true that some people are just born to do great things?
The truth is, there is no mysterious code or magic recipe for greatness. Nor does destiny choose some people to become great and overlook others.
Every human being has the potential to become great.
This article will uncover seven simple secrets that you can implement to achieve greatness in your own life.
You don’t necessarily have to change the world if you don’t feel that that is your calling. You don’t have to carve your name in history books.
However, you can achieve greatness in your own niche by learning from people who have left their unique mark on humanity.
We all want to be great at something. None of us willingly chooses to be mediocre. The longing for greatness is an innate need within each one of us.
The big misconception is that we don’t think we were born for greatness. We think that greatness is a quality that a very few unique people are blessed with.
We look at people like Oprah Winfrey or Mark Zuckerberg with awe and envy and wonder, “What’s their secret?”
The secret is a simple set of qualities that you can learn to develop.
These qualities interact and fuse together, enabling you to create your own personal greatness in whatever you choose to do.
It doesn’t have to be something world-changing, but it will be life-changing for you. You may want to be a great parent, a great spouse, or great in your career.
You may want to become a great advocate for a cause that you are passionate about. And if you want to reach higher and change the world – by all means, go for it!
Whatever measure of greatness you want to achieve, the seven secrets of greatness will help you fulfill your personal calling.
Chapter 1: What Greatness is Not
Defining exactly what greatness is can be tricky. For example, what do Bill Gates, Picasso and Marilyn Monroe have in common?
Not much, except that they have left us a unique legacy that has made them household names.
We could argue that they are icons because they were great at what they did. We could view them as pioneers who swam against the current.
However, there are millions of unsung greats who were not necessarily pioneers or disruptors.
These are the great mothers and fathers, the great friends, the great mentors and teachers who left their imprint on their immediate circle.
Yet, the world knows nothing about them nor would consider them great.
Greatness is a curious cocktail that is hard to define in specific words. And yet, we all recognize greatness when we see it.
Perhaps the definition will become clearer if we exclude what greatness is NOT.
Greatness Is Not Fame
Hitler, Stalin and Osama Bin Laden are three of the most famous names on the planet but nobody (except for some mentally challenged crackpots) would consider them great.
Being famous – or infamous in this case – is not a criterion for greatness.
However, greatness can bring great fame, and the examples are endless.
Greatness Is Not Wealth
Many of us think that being rich makes you a great person. This is false.
Pursuing wealth for its own sake makes a person anything but great, as it can bring out some pretty horrible qualities.
Greatness is not measured by X millions or billions of dollars. Greatness can bring great wealth but never the other way around. Let’s take Donald Trump.
Love him or hate him as a politician, we must agree that he is great in his original profession as a businessman.
It’s not his wealth that makes him great but his amazing business savvy, vision and pioneering spirit.
This is what has allowed him to build the huge business empire he has today.
Greatness Is Not Physical Strength
We only must look at Gandhi or Mother Theresa to know that greatness does not come from physical strength.
However, both Gandhi and Mother Theresa had an amazing strength of character, which is one of the qualities that made them great.
The bottom line: The closest definition of greatness would be the ability to achieve what you choose to achieve with passion, excellence and integrity.
This is a great definition because it applies to you, in whatever aspect of your life you choose to be great.
Greatness means being a master at achieving your goals, whether they are big or small.
The following chapters will discuss each of the 7 qualities you need to cultivate and how to develop them. They are not God-given talents or genetic traits that certain people exclusively possess.
They are habits and mindsets that you can learn and adapt. All it takes is resolve and practice.
You already possess some of these traits but just haven’t harnessed them properly. So, read on and discover how to master your greatness!
Chapter 2: Vision
Steve Jobs had a vision when he started building computers in his garage. His vision was a computer in every home, making technology easily accessible to all people.
Martin Luther King had a vision when he was still an obscure pastor. His vision was a word of equal opportunity without discrimination or racial barriers.
Both men turned their respective visions into a reality that revolutionized the world.
The first step in your journey to greatness starts with having a vision. What is your life goal? What is it that you are most passionate to achieve?
What is the legacy you would like to leave behind you? Have you ever really sat down and thought about it?
Vision Versus Goals
The first thing you need to do is to distinguish between your vision and your goals. Think of your vision as the destination that you want to arrive at.
Goals are the “stations” along the way that slowly but surely bring you closer to your vision.
Having a clear vision is your foundation. It allows you to decide on the steps you need to take to achieve it, to plan structure and to gear your life towards reaching the destination.
Once you have identified your vision, you will start to set the short – term and long-term goals that you need to achieve.
For example, if your vision is to become a pediatrician, your first long-term goal would be to finish medical school.
Short term goals would be to study and pass exams.
The next long-term goal would be an internship, with short term goals being to learn all the practical skills you need.
The culmination of all these goals will fulfill your vision, which is a successful practice where you can help and heal sick children.
Now that you know the difference between a vision and a goal, take some time to sit down and think it through.
Write down your vision and the goals you need to make to get you there. Set a target date for achieving each goal.
Goals can be daily, weekly, monthly and yearly or all four.
The Three Elements Of Vision
1. Purpose. A compelling vision is one that has a purpose. It’s knowing why you were put in this world and what you need to do to leave it a better place. Without a strong purpose, you will lose your motivation.
2. Seeing the bigger picture. This means envisioning – closing your eyes and seeing what your future will look like when you have reached your ultimate life goal. Picture what your life will look like in 10 or 15 years when you are running a successful and reputable business.
Visualize the great service or product you are offering your customers that adds so much value to their lives. Bask in the feeling that this picture gives you. Do this as often to keep your purpose string.
3. Values. A good vision is one based on good ethics and values rather than greed, self-indulgence or empty fame.
Good values should be your guiding principle in daily life as you move towards achieving your vision. Reaching the top unethically is not the quality of great people
Use Your Vision As A Tool
Great people have a unique way of making their visions a reality. They use them as a tool to motivate and propel them.
This can be done by regularly picturing the result to always keep it top of mind.
The bottom line: Great people can see the future. They can articulate their vision in descriptive and specific terms. They can visualize the result with clarity.
This crystal-clear articulation and positive self-talk keep the vision alive.
It enables you to set relevant goals and harness your determination and resolve to attain them.
Chapter 3: Passion and Drive
We all know that when we don’t love what we do, we don’t do it with conviction or enthusiasm. Why is this?
Because each one of us is born with an innate desire to pursue his or her passion.
Yet, so many of us are stuck in boring careers or humdrum lives because we’re too scared to take the risk of doing what we love.
Passion is not something we can develop or create. It is created by what excites and stimulates us. In turn, passion creates the drive and motivation to succeed.
Great people follow a simple equation. They pursue their passion. Passion creates drive and fuels their hunger to succeed.
Richard Branson is the perfect example. His passion for disruption and innovation has made him one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the world. (Becoming a billionaire in the process was a bonus!)
How To Maintain Your Passion And Drive
1. Don’t compromise. This quote from the great Nelson Mandela sums it up: “There’s no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Never settle for second best when it comes to something you are passionate about. It must be all or nothing.
The more passionate you are about not compromising, the more likely you are to succeed.
2. Let your passion stimulate everything you do. Look at even the most mundane tasks and goals as another step that is bringing you closer to greatness.
This will help you complete these tasks faster and better.
3. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. If Christopher Columbus, Henry Ford or Thomas Edison had allowed the fear of failing to limit them, the world would be a very different place.
Fear of failure leads to defeat and discourages you from sticking to your guns. So, just do it. Jump in with both feet!
4. Eliminate the pursuit of profit. Money should never be a passion in and of itself. Taking money out of the equation will ensure that you are motivated for all the right reasons.
5. Find a hero. Choose a passionate role model whom you admire. Learn how he or she became great despite obstacles and setbacks.
There’s nothing like having a hero keeping you inspired and driven.
6. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Avoid the cynics and negative people who always have sarcastic or discouraging remarks.
These people should be avoided as a rule, but more so when you are striving to become great.
The bottom line: Pursue your passion with a passion!
Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from fulfilling your dreams and let the pursuit of uncompromising excellence be your driving force.
Chapter 4: Courage
Courage is not fearlessness but the ability to conquer and overcome fear. Courage can take many forms and is not limited to physical daring.
Sometimes, standing up for your beliefs requires immense courage. Blazing a trail and daring to tread where others will not require remarkable bravery.
Therefore, courage is almost always a quality that great people possess. Courage requires the following characteristics.
Conviction: Great people do not follow blindly but know exactly where they stand. They are consistently passionate about their beliefs and never back down in the face of danger or adversity.
Confidence: Believing in yourself and what you want to achieve gives you the confidence to pursue your vision. Confidence also means trusting in your skills and capabilities. You don’t care what others think about you because your self-confidence is unshakable.
Integrity: We are all born with an inner compass that enables us to distinguish between right and wrong. Courage means not being swayed from what we know is right.
It means pursuing our goals with integrity. It is not stepping on other people and selling ourselves out in the process. However, it may take longer to achieve what we want.
Being loyal to your values is what is known as “the courage of your convictions”.
Leave your comfort zone. Courageous people live outside of their comfort zone.
They realize that major changes may be necessary to attain their vision and are brave enough to be disruptors and masters of change.
Welcome the unknown. Treading where others have feared to tread is the height of courage.
Think of how many great people have changed history by sailing unknown waters with no anchor except their blazing passion and conviction.
Great people embrace the unknown and are eager for new challenges because they have the confidence to overcome them.
The bottom line: Greatness always has a price. Great people understand that and are willing to pay it.
They are ready to make great sacrifices in order to pave new roads for others to follow. However, they never lose their integrity along the way.
Chapter 5: Patience
Greatness is never achieved swiftly. Many great people throughout history have spent their entire lives striving for a cause that they were committed to.
Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi are excellent examples.
Great people understand that racing to be first is not the goal because the resulting successes will not be long-lasting.
Instead, they move towards their vision with slow, steady and deliberate steps.
They understand that real success requires experience, growth and the cultivation of many skills.
Patience allows for better and more strategic decision-making to avoid pitfalls and setbacks. Ironically, patience can help you achieve lasting success and greatness faster!
If you are easily frustrated and tend to give up quickly then you are not destined for greatness. In today’s fast-paced digital world, having patience is much harder than ever before.
Sadly, instant gratification is now the norm in our culture and is in direct contrast to patience.
However, there are a few simple ways to cultivate patience that you can start practicing today.
1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness means to live in the present moment without worrying about the future or ruminating about the past.
Practice mindfulness daily so that your mind adopts it as a habit. You do this by focusing your attention on whatever you are doing at any given moment.
For example, when you are eating a meal, eat slowly. Focus fully on the smells, textures and tastes of the food. Chew slowly and savor every bite.
Dismiss any distracting thoughts that come up, keeping your mind anchored in the here and now.
You can practice mindfulness with anything you do. It can be playing with your kids, having a conversation or working at your desk.
A quick Google search will give you access to a variety of exercises to help you develop mindfulness.
2. Learn to delay gratification. Rather than rushing to get things done, savor and enjoy the steps you are taking to achieve a task or goal.
When you slow down and take things at a leisurely pace, the end reward will be so much greater because you feel you have earned it.
3. Garden or grow plants. Gardening is one of the best ways to learn patience because quite simply, plants don’t grow overnight.
Moreover, beautiful, healthy plants don’t grow on their own. They need tending, care and time.
The pleasure and joy of seeing your efforts blossom into a beautiful rose bush is the embodiment of patience.
4. Listen to others. The Greek philosopher Zeno of Citium said that we were born with ‘two ears and one mouth.’ Therefore, we should talk less and listen more.
Taking the time to listen to others is a great way to develop patience and empathy. Train yourself not to interrupt others or force your opinions on them.
In addition to cultivating patience and self-control, you will become immensely popular as well!
5. Practice stress relief. Stress is the major cause of frustration, impatience and anger. Find ways to de-stress regularly, whether through exercise, yoga, meditation or any other activity that relaxes you.
Relieving stress helps you think, plan and act with more patience and purpose.
The bottom line: The ability to expect delay – and even to savor it – is another quality of great people.
The ability to tolerate and overcome frustration is the secret that keeps great people going. Patience is indeed a virtue.
The good news is that it can be developed. Start cultivating patience with the steps discussed in this chapter to further empower yourself to achieve great things.
Chapter 6: Self-discipline
Self-discipline is at the heart of every great person. Life is unpredictable and tempestuous and if you lack self-discipline it will be very hard for you to stay on track.
Self-discipline means being in full control of your thoughts, actions and behavior to better handle disappointments and surprises.
More importantly, self-discipline is vital for maintaining your commitment because it eliminates 0r minimizes delays.
Self-discipline requires a degree of sacrifice but if your goal is to achieve something great, then a little hardship and deprivation is well worth it.
Benefits Of Self-Discipline
Self-discipline makes you happier. A study conducted by Wilhelm Hoffman in 2013 found that participants who had self-discipline led happier lives than those who did not.
This is because the first group had more structure in their careers, personal lives and relationships.
This made them better able the be productive and less prone to confusion and frustration when sudden changes occurred.
Self-discipline builds strong character. This is because it enables you to conquer your weaknesses and harness your strengths for optimal success.
Having the determination to conquer temptations gives you an instant rush.
Having the willpower to keep pushing on when things get tough gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride – and is the best kind of motivation.
Self-discipline allows you to achieve long-term goals. When you have a vision or life goal that you want to achieve, self-discipline is your best weapon.
If you are not self-restrained, you will often find yourself sidetracked and distracted.
Self-control enables you to keep your sights on the end goal and to make it your top priority.
Here are a few simple changes you can make to become more self-disciplined.
Reward yourself. When you get up an hour earlier every day to meditate or read a book, reward yourself with a nice evening out.
When you stick to a diet and lose the first 5 pounds, buy yourself something nice. Regularly rewarding yourself for self-control will keep you motivated.
Structure your day. Have a regular daily schedule that includes work, mealtimes, exercise, and regular bedtimes and wakeup times. Stick to it as much as you possibly can.
Set deadlines. Depending on the task you need to accomplish, set a short-term deadline (hours or days) or longer-term deadlines (weeks or months). Meet those deadlines whatever it takes.
A good suggestion is to break up big tasks into smaller “mini-tasks”, which you accomplish daily.
Start small. Decide to wake up half an hour early to exercise. Decide that you will not have dessert for one whole week. Decide to read a chapter of a book every night until you finish it. Start small and gradually expand your self-discipline until you have conquered yourself!
The bottom line: Greatness requires leveraging the power of self-discipline. Self-discipline is one of the pillars of success. It is the bridge between your goals and the attainment of those goals.
Chapter 7: Integrity
Greatness is never achieved through deceit, manipulation or causing harm to others. For a great person, the end never justifies the means.
Integrity and honesty are two important traits that distinguish great people from those who achieved success through disreputable methods.
Here are some key facts to bear in mind.
Integrity starts with being honest with yourself and always holding yourself accountable. Starting with yourself helps you develop the conviction and the courage to be honest with others.
Being honest means not deceiving others by telling them what they want to hear. Always tell the truth, even if it hurts.
Integrity means having the courage to admit when you are wrong. There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is insisting that you are right every time – but nobody is ever right all the time.
When you are wrong, just admit it, whether to yourself or others. It can mean the difference between success and failure.
Never back down in the face of adversity. Stay true to yourself and your values. Never take the easy way out by being devious and deceitful.
Integrity breeds trust. Being known as a trustworthy and honest person will open more doors for you. People will be more likely to help and support you when they know you are not out to take advantage of them.
Moreover, being trustworthy builds strong lasting relationships. These relationships will be invaluable in difficult times when you need empathy and support.
The bottom line: Success, even huge success is attainable without integrity. But it will never develop into true greatness.
Chapter 8: Resilience
History is filled with great people who experienced failure after failure, and setback after setback. What did they do? Each time, they picked themselves up and kept going. Therefore, all great people must have resilience.
Thomas Edison did not invent the electric light bulb in two days, nor did Einstein produce the theory of relativity over a cup of coffee.
It must have taken years of laborious trial and error, and countless long nights of pondering and brainstorming until that final breakthrough was made.
Being resilient means that you are emotionally prepared for crises, setbacks and even failures, but you also have the determination to overcome them.
You are flexible enough to change plans if needed but rigid enough to keep pursuing your goal.
Here is what you need to do to increase your resilience.
Accept failure as a fact of life.
Look at adversity as an opportunity to harness and use all your skills and capabilities.
Learn from mistakes to avoid making them the next time around.
Keep your vision alive
Let adversity bring out the best in you.
Seek support from those who believe in you.
Never stop believing in yourself.
The bottom line: Training yourself to be resilient will empower you to never abandon your dream. Always remember that greatness does not come without a struggle!