The secret to greatness lies in the small actions we each take every day.
Although we won’t all be recognized by history, each of us is capable of achieving greatness through our everyday actions.
Most of the good in the world is built on the accumulated efforts of ordinary people doing small things in a great way.
7 Keys to Greatness
- Be clear that your actions serve a higher purpose, and are not simply self-serving.
- Know what an excellent job looks like.
- Start with the end in mind.
- Make a full effort.
- Give it your full attention.
- Be willing to make mistakes; use them as learning opportunities.
- See it through to the end. Don’t settle for less than you are capable of.
Being great does not mean being perfect. Greatness comes from doing your best.
A life should strive for greatness, as Mr. Lincoln seemed to know.
Both success and greatness come from trying to do the best you can in everything, from the smallest to the largest. Some times your best my come up short, but if you keep trying and doing in the end you will have always moved farther forward in life.
I see far too many organizations trying to simply match the benchmarks set by others, when all that will ever do is guarantee mediocrity, great organizations constantly strive to be better than they currently are. As Toyota they are not perfect, but everyday they pursue it, and thus they keep getting just a little closer.
I never saw a vision statement that said, “Dare to be mediocre,” yet too many are focused on beating the competition instead of daring to be great – a surefire recipe for mediocrity, as you point out. Thanks for your thoughts and for pointing out how this applies to organizations and teams as well as individuals, Robert.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’m slowly starting to understand the difference between striving for greatness and demanding perfection. Posts like this help remind me of how fine that line can be.
I’m not completely sure I agree with the first point you make however. Acting in our own self-interests (whilst not always edifying to observe) is pretty deeply ingrained for most of us. Is it perhaps better to state that by serving a higher purpose we can achieve more than we can when limiting ourselves to our own needs?
Hi David, I agree with your explanation. When we focus on something larger than simply our own self-interest, in the long run, our interests are better served. Thanks for taking the time to clarify that point.
Being a huge fan of stories, I loved this post.
I recently heard myself telling the team that in current business environment, if you are not making forward progress you are moving backwards by default. If you are not adding positive energy to move people towards greatness, then you are not helping them much. There is no steady state in VUCA world.
The story of Abraham Lincoln and your powerful pointers are just what we need to constantly remind ourselves of as leaders.
Well said, Tanmay. There IS no steady state. Being intentional about making a positive contribution is what greatness is about. Thanks for your insights!
I love this whole message. It gives me some ideas for changing up the texts I send to my grandchildren a few times a week. Mostly I say a combination of “I love you. I’m proud of you. You’re a star. Be awesome today.” Someday I hope they look back and remember how important it is to encourage people you love.
The unconditional love and positive regard you give as a grandmother is such an important contribution … not only for your grandchildren, but for all of us, for they are our future leaders.
Skills, Values and Experiences differentiate us as leaders. The office worker often looks up to the highest level CEO or dignitary who has just achieved something great and says ‘one day I will be like them’ A great aspiration that invariably falls short. What is needed is a recognition that everyone at every level can achieve personal greatness. The nurse can provide exemplary care; the regional director can provide leadership during a crisis; the most senior financial analyst provides a fiscal blueprint that reduces national debt. Greatness is not the reserve of those at the highest levels; it is available to all. As Skills, Values, Experiences differentiate so Greatness integrates. Let us spread this message into 2015 and forever. Best Regards and happy holidays, Raymond
Well said, Raymond. You don’t have to be at the highest level to be great. Everyone can achieve personal greatness no matter what they do.
You remind me of a story of President Kennedy touring Nasa during the Apollo Moon Project. It is said he came upon a janitor mopping the floor, and asked him how he liked his job. The janitor replied that he loved his job because he was helping put a man on the moon. When we see the significance of what we do and how it makes a contribution, we act with greatness.