Would you rather? It’s a game we’ve probably all played – if you have kids, you surely play it often! It‘s a great car game…
- Would you rather eat potato chips or French fries?
- Would you rather sky dive or scuba dive?
- Would you rather be wealthy and sick or healthy and broke?
Today, I have a “would you rather” question for all of you: Would you rather be GREAT or would you rather be FAMOUS?
When we consider famous people, several descriptions come to mind:
- They are well-known
- They usually have money – lots of money!
- People flock to them and want to be near them
Perhaps they are famous because of an ability – acting, or sports…
Maybe they are famous because of their family – for example, the Kennedy family or the Kardashian family.
Sometimes people are famous because of their looks, their title, their position. People can be famous for many reasons, but what about GREAT people? What are the attributes and characteristics that make someone great?
Greatness is not performance-based. Greatness it is not what someone DOES, but rather what someone IS.
Greatness is an internal quality; it is a heart condition. Greatness is never self-focused, instead, it is always centered on the good of others. It’s very easy to become distracted by self-promotion and a desire to be elevated, but that is not the heart of greatness. This story spotlights that point.
Once upon a time there was a king who ruled over everything in the land. One day there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, “My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.”
The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, “Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I want to give a plot of land to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all.”
The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing. But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this, and he said, “My! If that is what you get for a carrot, what if you gave the king something better?”
The next day the nobleman came before the king, and he was leading a handsome black stallion.
He bowed low and said, “My lord, I breed horses, and this is the greatest horse I’ve ever bred or ever will; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.”
But the king discerned his heart and said, “Thank you,” and took the horse and simply dismissed him. The nobleman was perplexed, so the king said, “Let me explain. That gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse.”
Many times, we want a shortcut to greatness, but it is not a prize that is given or a position that can be awarded. Greatness is an internal quality that is developed throughout life. Let me give you three touchstones of greatness in a person:
1. Great people have accomplished the purposes for which they were designed.
Every person is born with a seed of greatness. It’s your choice whether or not you will grow and develop that seed into a full, impactful life or chose an average existence.
Each of you can think of someone you knew when you were young that had great talent, or great opportunities, or great options and possibilities, but they never reached their potential. I remember a kid in my class in high school. He was smart, good-looking, athletic, funny – people loved being around Charles. But Charles never really had goals. He walked on a college football team, and walked back off. He went to the University for a couple of years, but never finished. He played around with a boating company, but never got it off the ground. The last I heard from Charles, he was working in California, making ends meet, and still waiting for his big break. He had the skills, he had the opportunity, and he’s had almost 30 years to set himself apart, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Now, some of you know a Charles, and some of you may relate very closely to Charles yourself. Hear me carefully. You were born with a seed of greatness and it is never too late to be great. Begin today – right now.
- Decide you want more for your life.
- Discover what you were designed to do – what it is that makes you come alive.
- Start doing it.
Great people accomplish the purpose they were designed to achieve.
2. Great people have developed traits and qualities that distinguish and differentiate them from others.
I want to make a very important point here. The traits of greatness are not automatic. Great people pursue and develop these traits. It’s not that some people get them and others don’t. It’s not that some are lucky and others are unlucky. These traits are intentionally studied, integrated, groomed, and practiced in the lives of great people.
Among many others, these traits include determination, integrity, courage, persistence, passion, wisdom and generosity. We have discussed several of these qualities previously on this blog, and we can never hear them enough. Over the next few weeks, we will look at more of these traits of greatness, and we will see how our mindset about these qualities must be aligned as we pursue an uncommon life.
3. The third touchstone of greatness is great people positively affect and impact the lives of other people.
Your first reaction may be, of course, great people will mentor, will employ, will influence, and will better the lives of those around them. This is true. Great people will certainly do all that, but great people will also lift up the people around them daily. Greatness is not some mountaintop goal; greatness is lived out in everyday relationships.
Life is not lived in a vacuum. We all interact with others, and all of our interactions will fall in one of three categories.
1. People are uplifted and our time with them is remembered pleasantly and positively, even if it was just paying for a cup of coffee.
2. The interaction was neutral, perhaps transactional or isolated. You may have been introduced to someone at a party and immediately their attention was pulled elsewhere. Neutral contact.
3. People are harmed or hurt or diminished in some way by our interface. This is very unfortunate, and very preventable. You control you. If you choose to blunder through life, expecting people to understand that you are busy, you are stressed, you are overwhelmed, you are needy, you are the one that should be getting the attention - then you have missed it, and you have missed out. Great people see others. Great people listen to others. Great people put others first. This quality is a touchstone of greatness.
Another facet of greatness is this: Great people inspire and motivate us to pursue greatness in our own lives.
When you are around someone who is great, you want more. You want more of that calmness, that certainty, that love for others, that focus, and that dependability. You want to be like them. Great people inspire us to do great things and to be better people.
Greatness is achievable. YOU can be great. You can accomplish your purpose, you can acquire and develop the traits of greatness, and you can lift up other people as you go through life. Great people live life differently, and great people do so intentionally.
So, would you rather be GREAT or would you rather be FAMOUS?