Greatness is comforting but is not easy. Goodness is comforting and is not that easy. What makes the difference is “easy”. It is easier said than done, a note to self, a note to remember.
Jim Collins remarked, “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
So, we know that there is an enormous difference between good and great. Being good at something is knowing what to do, how to do, and how to make a going of it. Being great, on the other hand, is knowing what to do to make something become extraordinary and shine out so bright that it fades other things in comparison to it.
Being good is not a mean thing but arguably easy. Being great, on the flip side, is very hard to be. Being good is being a notch above others in competition for a particular spot, a particular point. Being great is being a cult figure. Being above all else in the line to a certain kind of a throne. Where does the mediocre fit into this picture?
Being mediocre is being on a lower rung in this ladder as compared to being good. And it is far lower than being great. Most of us settle for the mediocre, sometimes for the good, at most. We are satisfied even with being good. And we may as well be okay with being mediocre. But, we dream of being great. Despite dreaming, we still do not really cut the grade or chalk out a path to being great. Why is that?
You think greatness, but you choose to stay ordinary. You strive for greatness, but you thrive on your ordinary choices. You look up to people who are great, but you keep doing what comforts you. The problem isn’t that greatness has to do a lot with too many things, the problem is your choices have got nothing to do with greatness.
So well, being great is tough. Really very tough. It involves challenging this and that and those norms you are used to and heading towards that everyone else around you finds odd, and above all, challenging yourself. Nobody recommends odds that they find odd but you don’t, you very well know, you must know.
If you think of it, we are settled with good. But a good is not great.
It involves serious WORK. And not just hours spent burning midnight oil. These hours should be spent burning midnight oil which proves effective in your sojourn to greatness. Becoming great means sincere toil, and something which proves in the right direction; it takes you forward towards a goal of which you have a crystal clear definition. This goal needs accomplishment of a different sort altogether. It will not be yours in a day. It will take months and years and that too of concerted bids which have been well thought of.
You have sat on how to do a particular piece of work, and you have envisioned all the steps towards getting at it. And most of these steps are not simple. They take you out of your comfort zone. They egg you to do the supernatural. They call you towards them and you pay heed to this call by doing something which makes you slog day in and day out and without complaining. And, the most important nuance of all is that this work is well-channelized.
It is a path you have originally given thought to well in advance. And you have also thought of the ways to circumvent the issues which may dog you. And if you have not, you still may be stymied by certain surprises but you do not give up. You plod along, rethinking your strategies and overcoming all bottlenecks, one by one.
You are not groping in the dark for greatness to come by. Greatness comes with planning and with execution of each and every phase of this plan. It does not come easy is what we have already emphasized upon. But what you should be well prepped up for is that greatness may take a toll on you.
It may call for certain adjustments to be made. It may call for giving up certain aspects of your life which comfort you. You may have to totally sidestep your comfort zones and delve into those pockets of your lives and times which may even make you uneasy in bits and pieces. You have to unlock those comfort zones, knowingly or unknowingly, you are trapped in. They may call for a certain sacrifice; A sacrifice of family time, a sacrifice of work-life balance, a sacrifice of certain things which you really hold dear to you.
Our life goes on, from passing on high school to getting graduate and securing a job, our life keeps going on, we make money, we give back to the society, we do a lot for ourselves, our family, friends and society, our life keeps moving forward, and at the end, many of us end up being mediocre. Mediocrity is not satisfying, to say the least.
Mediocrity is not something that our life has chosen for us, but it’s us who have chosen for our life.
Why do most people not seek greatness? It is not as if this is some elusive quality which is out of reach. There is no need for any foolproof evidence that we can all be great if we so want and really push our envelopes towards it. But, no; we do not do so. We are happy in our little villas of comfort. We are satisfied with our lot.
Sometimes this may be because we spread out all that we wish for. We disperse the power to do something great in little, little somethings – we have a nice, big house, our children have good education and we have an awesome family and a rollicking career – what more can anyone ask for, is what we ask of ourselves. Well, my friend, this is a big NO GO, for greatness. For achieving greatness, you need a different attitude. A completely driven and focused spirit and soul; you need dissatisfaction with your present lot.
Mediocrity comes with a whole lot of package to our life that we don’t realise, but we opt it. We opt it because it comforts us. It becomes pleasing all of a sudden, for that very moment.
You need to be unhappy, at least for a while to get you the steam to rev up your engines towards trying to achieve greatness. Then, you may let yourself totally on the path towards achieving something truly trailblazing and memorable.
You need that bank, that zone, of energy and vibe which will propel you being towards giving a shot towards something which stalemates all else in the competition. Then, you can achieve greatness. And thrive on it. To add to that, what makes a good, great?!
It is something which as stated above everyone can achieve, but only some do. These ‘some’ are the ones who have made a truly gritty effort, bit by bit, day by day, week after week, piecing together the puzzle which will make them great.
And, at the end of one fine day in these weeks of hard work and spent energy, they will find their hallmark which makes them great. Their search, if a dedicated one, will not go in vain. We must never be pessimistic enough to think so. And, it will be an example, a trend, a folklore, for others to emulate and to feel energized by.
Easy doesn’t come with responsibility, so does goodness. But greatness comes with responsibility.
(With inputs from Ayush Garg).
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