Who wouldn’t want to be great? Most of us start off with visions of grandeur before the world beats most of us into submission until we accept a life of mediocrity. After reading this, I hope you decide that mediocrity is a choice and greatness is within your reach. 


The truth is, there is no secret to greatness. Every human being has the potential to become great. I repeat, every human being. Let me give an example that inspired me.


I just watched a GREAT movie, The Peanut Butter Falcon. The star of the show is Zack Gottsagen, a 32-year-old downs syndrome man. He outshines stars from blockbuster movies and his charisma is what attracted these same stars to the movie. Shia LaBeouf, from the Transformers movies, went so far as to call Zack his spiritual advisor and brother while working with him.


If Gottsagen can convince famous actors to join him at reduced salaries in a movie in which he stars, inspire a studio to invest in the movie, and spiritually guide a famous actor despite what many would say is not possible of a downs syndrome man, what is holding the rest of us back?


The greatness of Gottsagen and others is a curious mix of characteristics that are very difficult to define with just a few words. However, we all know greatness when we see it.


Let’s start defining greatness by what it is NOT.


Fame does NOT make you great. Just ask Hitler and Bin Laden about that.


Wealth does NOT make you great. Money is just a tool the magnifies who you already are. If you are generous, you will become more generous. If you are a jerk, you will become a world-class jerk with more resources and more ability to make others miserable.


Physical strength does NOT make you great. I would guess that Mother Teresa’s bench press was pretty unimpressive. Yet, you would have to be crazy to say she wasn’t epically great.


Now, let’s start with what great people DO have.


Vision is fundamental to success. Steve Jobs envisioned a computer in every home when he ran Apple out of his garage. Vision has three main characteristics.


  1. Purpose. Without purpose the vision blurs, the work becomes mundane, and you give up.
  2. Seeing the big picture. Jeff Bezos has made Amazon the world’s most trusted brand by looking out decades, not days. If you want success and greatness faster than a McDonald’s drive in, well, good luck with that.
  3. Values. Great people do not destroy others to achieve their goals. Lack of values creates greedy, self-indulged, and empty fame.


Simply put, great people see their future and constantly enhance their vision by methodically adding details until they can see it vividly. With this vivid vision in their minds, they now have a powerful tool that inspires and propels them to greatness.


In my next post, I will pursue passion, drive and courage. In this process of defining greatness, I look forward to your comments and participation.


Tell me what makes your heroes great, and what you are willing to do to leave your legacy and inspire greatness in others.