Fix your sight on greatness

What is the ultimate success you could ever think of accomplishing?  In this success are you the best there ever was?  Knowing your ultimate success and setting your sight on being the best, that is how you will discover your greatness. 

Greatness is not something that can be achieved in a day, the steps to greatness are daily achievements. 

Daily Sacrifice. What are you willing to not do?  It takes sacrifice to achieve greatness.  If you try to be a little of everything than you won’t be a lot of anything.  There is a limited amount of time and you have to invest it in those things that matter most. Don’t chase after anything just because it looks good, save your efforts for those things that will make you great.  Great speakers don’t stay out late the night before an early morning presentation, they get a good night sleep. Great athletes don’t binge watch the latest television shows before a big game, they practice.  Great leaders don’t fill their to do list with endless projects, they prioritize. What should your daily sacrifice be?

“You can only become great at that thing you’re willing to sacrifice for.”  – Maya Angelou

Daily Effort. What are you willing to do?  Show up every day. Do the best you can at that moment with the task at hand using the tools and skills you have.  Consistent effort in everything, no matter what.   Do you want to earn your Bachelor’s degree, or Master’s degree?  Go to class, do the homework, study for the tests.  Do you want to play professional sports?  Give it your all in practice, workout, study the game. Do you want to be an executive leader? Stay current on the latest trends, set clear goals, invest in the development of your team. It’s what you do every day that matters.

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” –  Dwayne Johnson

Daily Impact.  What impact are you willing to have? Our days are filled with opportunities to make a difference.  It doesn’t have to be a monumental action. A smile, an encouraging word, a helping hand might be just what is needed.  Recognize that what you do every day is an example to anyone watching.  Are you demonstrating the actions that lead to greatness?  Your success is not yours alone.  Do you use your success to help others succeed?

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” –  Bob Marley

Success is a process – what will you do next?

Success is an elusive goal that’s fleeting and requires constant focus and effort.  Have we ever really “made it?”  By accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, you were successful.  But notice the word “were.” Success is a process of achievement that we must strive for on every effort.

In the book Grit – The Power of Passion of Perseverance Angela Duckworth discusses her research and findings on the psychology of human accomplishment.  In the formula below, Duckworth points out that while “talent” is important, “effort” appears twice in the equation. 

Talent + Effort = Skill.  Skill + Effort = Accomplishment.” – Angela Duckworth 

The process of success is made of three steps:  Do what you can – Learn more – Do the next thing. 

Do what you can.  Why aren’t we willing to do something if we can’t do everything?  It’s as if we believe that nothing worthwhile can come from what we offer unless we can’t offer the best there is.  Part of that is true but with a qualifier.  There is great value in what can offer, if it is the best we can do at the moment.

Don’t compare your best with that of anyone else, use your talent and skill to do the best you can right where you are. Recognizing when we do that, we will continue to improve and out best will get better. 

“Leave your ego at the door every morning, and just do some truly great work. Few things will make you feel better than a job brilliantly done.” – Robin S. Sharma

Learn more.  With every action, there is an opportunity to learn and improve in preparation for the next action.  No matter the result, whether it worked just as planned or not, take away something that you will do better the next time.

Invest in your growth: read a book, listen to a podcast, ask questions, practice, and keep a look out for ideas you can use.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do the next thing.   Now that you have done your best and learned some more, it’s time to do your new best.  Strive to apply all that your talent, skill, and effort has brought to this effort, and the next, and the next… 

“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.” – Marie Curie

Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.

If you get something you only wish for, will you be ready for it when it happens?  In the area of wishing, Jim Rohn says it best, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” Great success doesn’t come easy, it comes from great effort. 


If you want to achieve your goals – don’t wish for it, plan for it, prepare for it, and work for it. 

Plan for it.  “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is known for his success in multiple styles of art. His paintings covered a blue period, rose period, African influence, cubism, surrealism, and realism.  His is also known for being able to create art in any style that was popular for a time.  Over 78 years he created 13,500 paintings among many other prints, illustrations and sculptures and his artwork sold for higher prices than any artist of his time.

Picasso was not chasing or inventing the most popular styles just to stay relevant, this was how he expressed himself, “Whenever I wanted to say something, I said it the way I believed I should,” Picasso said.  He was able to re-invent himself over and over as a result of his plan for continuous learning, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Prepare for it  “It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history winning three gold medals, a silver medal and two bronze medals in the long jump and heptathlon events.  She was voted the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated.

While watching the 1976 Summer Olympics, Joyner-Kersee, then 14 years old, saw sprinter Evelyn Ashford and thought, “I want to be the Olympics. I didn’t know if that was going to happen. But I dedicated myself to see if it could be possible.”

She went on to win the National Junior Pentathlon championship four years in a row and excelled at many sports in high school including, track, basketball and volleyball.  In her junior year, she set the State high-school record for the women’s long jump.  While in college, Joyner-Kersee focused her training on preparing for the Olympic heptathlon event.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee gave this advice on preparing to achieve success: “Set short term realistic goals. Be consistent. Believe what is possible is probable. Never give up on yourself. Be receptive and open to people being honest with you.”

Work for it.  “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

Pele scored 1,281goals over a career that spanned 1,363 games.  He was member of the Brazilian international team that won three World Cups. He was voted the Football Player of the Century in 1999 by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics and was elected as the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and Reuters News Agency.

At the age of 16 he began his professional career on the Santos FC and became the top scorer in the league.  He was called up to the Brazilian national team that year and scored his first international goal making him the youngest player to score a goal in an international match.

Pele was raised to play soccer.  He was taught by his father and they could not afford a proper soccer ball so he played with a sock stuffed with newspaper to hone his skills.  While other children were on the playground he was working on his future at a very young age.  Pele said of his young work ethic, “I was ready to give up things kids my age were normally doing. Instead, I spent a lot of time practicing and improving my skills.”

Pack your strengths

No matter where you go, or what you do, remember to pack your strengths. There are things you do well, and there are things in which you excel – these are your strengths. Consider this scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

“’Play to your strengths.’ ‘I haven’t got any,’ said Harry, before he could stop himself. ‘Excuse me,’ growled Moody, ‘you’ve got strengths if I say you’ve got them. Think now. What are you best at?'”

Usain Bolt is the world’s fastest sprinter. He holds the record in the 100 meter and 200 meter races. When asked how he was able to win both of these races in three different Olympics, his response was “There are better starters than me but I’m a strong finisher.” Bolt knows his strengths and excels by using them.

A recent NY Times article discussed Usain Bolt’s remarkable speed and shared the results of a SMU study on the biomechanics of his sprinting. Here are a few of the facts reviewed:

Bolt is 6 feet 5 inches tall and can cover 100 meters in 41 strides were other sprinters need up to 48 strides. He is able to conserve energy with fewer strides which allows him to maintain a faster pace over the last 30 meters when all sprinters, including Bolt, are slowing down. This explains his comment on being a strong finisher.

The next fact is one that requires more discussion. According to the SMU study, “His right leg appears to strike the track with about 13 percent more peak force than his left leg. And with each stride, his left leg remains on the ground about 14 percent longer than his right leg. This runs counter to conventional wisdom, based on limited science, that an uneven stride tends to slow a runner down.”

How could the world’s fastest sprinter run in a method that is counter to that which drives top speed? In his autobiography, Usain Bolt shares that childhood scoliosis caused his right leg to be an inch shorter than his left. The scientists at SMU propose that Bolt developed his sprinting style – his strength – to compensate for the difference in leg length.

In the end, Usain Bolt is the world’s fastest sprinter because he uses his height, endurance and ability to adjust his stride to run faster than everyone he competes against.

Here are the three lessons we learn from Usain Bolt: Know how you excel, Practice how you excel, Repeat how you excel. This will lead you to your greatness.

No matter where you go, or what you do, remember to pack your strengths.

You’ve changed

Remember your school reunions? Some people “Haven’t changed a bit,” while others hear, “You’ve changed.”  I am not sure which one is meant as a compliment but I know which comment I wanted my classmates saying when I walked in the door because I planned and strived to be different, better than I was before.

Reunions are often meant to relive the glory days of old, simpler times when in retrospect life was easy.  But why live in the comfort zone?  We should be seeking change, doing everything possible to learn, grow, experience new adventures.  As Jim Rohn said, “Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”

Here are three considerations for those who are eager to start the journey of becoming the fullest version of themselves.

Change inspires greatness.  Be clear that the road to greatness is built on change.  An oak tree would still be an acorn if it wasn’t willing to change.  Who you are is good, who you can be is great.

“I’m interested in things that change the world or that affect the future and wondrous, new technology where you see it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, how did that even happen? How is that possible?’”- Elon Musk

Change requires sacrifice.  Becoming something new means leaving behind something old.  The level of intensity that got you where you are today won’t get you to where you want to be tomorrow.  If you’re into fitness you know that your level of growth is directly tied to your level of effort.  All growth follows the same principle. 

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” -Anatole France

Change desires more.  Change is like Newton’s Law of Motion which states, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”  Starting the process of change is difficult, but once started you will want to keep moving forward through the next change to reach new success.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” -Henri Bergson

You Belong

You belong because your you.  You don’t have to change who you are to belong. You don’t have to act a certain way to belong.  You just need to be you and let people see the real you. Certainly, there are always activities that must be completed, goals to be achieved, and deadlines to be met.  But have you considered that perhaps you can do all of those things, and be you?

We all want to belong.  Do you remember the TV show Cheers?  The theme song had this great line that perfectly captured why people came to Cheers “Where everybody knows your name, and we’re always glad you came.”  Wouldn’t it be great if the room lit up when you came in and people stopped to shout your name? “Norm” was the refrain on Cheers.  This is what we all want.  It’s in our DNA to want to be connected to other people.

“The most basic human desire is to feel like you belong.” – Simon Sinek

The world wants you to fit in.  If you’ve ever applied for a job you have undoubtedly seen that each opportunity had a thorough description of the candidate’s desired skill, experience, background etc…It’s unlikely that you, or anyone else meets all of the descriptors as laid out.  But, this is what we compare ourselves to.  Instead we should find the role that allows us to do what we do best that also fulfills the needs of the employer.  Alternately, you could confidently aspire to achieve success in roles in different ways than they have always been done by being you.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You should want to stand out.  If you subscribe to the use of tools like Strengthsfinder you are aware of the statistics that accompany the output.  In Strengthsfinder, the participant receives a report of their top five strengths in order out of 34 possible strengths.  The math behind those numbers says there is a 1 in 33 million probability that any one person’s top five strengths, in order, are the same as anyone else’s. So, if you allow yourself to be you, you will stand out. And your unique perspective will be a key aspect of why you belong.

“It sounds so simple, but if you just be yourself, you’re different than anyone else.” Tony Bennett

Make better choices

What will you do in the present to improve your future?  You may have made poor choices in the past and wish you had taken different paths.  Or maybe you have not really made any choices and just let things happen and want to take more control of your life.  There is a strategy for making better choices.

World renowned expert on strategy and Harvard Business School professor, Michael Porter is quoted as saying, “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.”  Let’s analyze these three areas in terms of making better choices.

Making choices.  If you want to make better choices, you first have to be willing to make choices.  Someone has to decide, and where you’re concerned that must be you.  Jim Rohn, the man who mentored Tony Robbins, said it like this, “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” Be determined that you will decide, each and every time.

Trade-offs.  There are never truly perfect answers; but there are better answers.  And there is always a limited amount of information and limited time to decide. What you do with the limited time and information to make the best possible choice can make all the difference in your success.  Are you willing to dig a little deeper?  Are you willing to ask for help?  If you are, you can find what you need to weigh all the possible answers and pick the best one for you.

“Most decisions are not binary, and there are usually better answers waiting to be found if you do the analysis and involve the right people.” –  Jamie Dimon

Choosing to be different.  The easiest choice is to do what everyone else is doing – but that just results in you being average.  What sets you apart is what makes you successful.  All of the choices you make every day should get you one step closer to what makes you different.  Start with deciding what the end game is. Define your dreams, then put everything into accomplishing them.

“Making better choices takes work. There is a daily give and take, but it is worth the effort.” –  Tom Rath


Make it Happen

Don’t let things happen to you, make them happen for you. A subtle difference in words that leads to a major difference in outcomes.

There is power you can draw on to make it happen:

Use the power of purpose. Why am I doing this?  This the key question you need to have an answer for every day.  Your purpose allows you to make better choices among many which seem reasonable, based on which one brings you to your success in the best way.  Your purpose energizes you to keep going during mundane tasks that will lead you to the ultimate goal.  Your purpose helps you start again after a failed attempt.

“Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” – Wayne Huizenga

Use the power of planning.  What needs to happen? You know where you want to end up – your purpose – but how are you going to get there?  If you want the highest probability of success you must plan your steps.  Start with the biggest grouping of activities that makes sense, then narrow in on the immediate actives and go for those.  After each set of immediate actions, re-evaluate where you are and adjust your plan to reach your purpose.

“An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.” – Scott Belsky

Use the power of people. Who can help me?   Each individual is limited by time and ability.  That is why organization and allocation of resources and delegation of the work is paramount to achieving your purpose in the most effective and efficient method. 

“To make any future that we dreamt up real requires creative scientists, engineers, and technologists to make it happen.”- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Do your thing – not everything.

Doing your thing and not everything doesn’t limit you in anyway.  In fact, it expands your ability to have a big impact if you do your thing in a great way.

There is a limit on how much time and effort you can invest on any one task.  Each person has necessities that must be done to survive – eat, sleep, shelter – and there are those activities that should be accomplished to revive – exercise, learn, relationships – next are those things that if done exceptionally well will cause you to thrive – endless possibilities.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi

With the limited time available for those things that are in the thriving category you need to choose wisely.  Which ones will have the biggest impact?  Which ones am I sure to complete? Don’t do four things half way, do one thing all the way.  Focus your energy on completing the small steps needed to have the big impact.

Do the small things well, they will add up to big things.  John Wooden was the head basketball coach for UCLA for twelve years.  Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” winning ten NCAA national championships and seven in a row during his tenure.  This big accomplishment happened because Wooden focused his players on doing the small things well.  He is quoted as saying “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Each freshman player first learned how to put on their socks and shoes properly.  There was a technique that involved pulling up the socks so there were no flaps in their shoes that could cause blisters, and tying their laces tight so there were no sprained ankles.  NBA great Bill Walton played under John Wooden and said he was shocked when he first heard the lesson on socks and shoes.  He also said that this initial lesson described, “Everything they would need to know for the rest of their lives.”

Then every year each player, regardless of their experience, received a copy of Walton’s “Pyramid of Success,” in which he lays out the steps for success.  These include developing abilities such as Loyalty, Self-Control, Skill, Confidence among the fifteen steps. The top of the pyramid Competitive Greatness, and is described at, “Perform at your best when your best is required.  Your best is required each day.”

If you want to have a big impact, do your thing in a great way.

How is your message received?

You have something to say – a message that people need to hear – it can change lives for the better. You’ve worked hard and earned the opportunity and platform to share your message – congratulations. That’s a great start. But if you want your message to have an impact, it must be acted upon. How do you make sure that happens?

There are three main ways that messages are received and how the deliverer can take steps to ensure it is acted upon.

Some already believe in and practice what you are saying. They have done all they can up to this point to be successful and are ready to do more.

They will be looking for you to provide them with the resources to accomplish even more.

Your direction should be – Go do it, what can I do to help you be successful?

Some have never been exposed to your ideas but like what they are hearing. They believe that this can be something to help them be successful and want to learn more.

They will be interested in you teaching them how to apply what your message shared.

Your direction should be – Here’s how you do it, what can I do to help you learn?

Some have never heard these type of message and are not convinced that it is the right answer for them to be successful. They need to hear it again and again including past examples of success so they understand more.

You will need to convince them that your message is worthwhile.

Your direction should be – You need to do it, what can I do to help you understand?

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