Want to be Great?

Want to be Great?

In my experience, not many people, or organisations, actually want to be great. Most seem content with “getting by”, being “average” or otherwise “treading water”.

That’s fine with me. I’ll not be much interested in working with them, but I can enjoy their simple harmonies, and respect their choice. I don’t believe that an aspiration for greatness makes someone superior to someone without.

Why, then, even mention it? Because for some of these folks and groups, I notice a mismatch between what they say and what they do. Argyris refers to this as a gap between espoused theory – what we say we want – and theory in action – what we actually do.

“To be great is to be misunderstood.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And when a person or group espouses an aspiration to greatness, yet does little to move towards it, suffering can ensue. People who do seek greatness can be sucked in by fine words, only to find little or no action in that direction, nor any chance to pursue their own aspirations. And those who baulk at action towards greatness can find it hard to accept that other, more driven folks may not want to be part of their unambitious future.

Time and again I see folks with aspirations to greatness place themselves in situations which can only serve to frustrate those aspirations.

Is there any remedy for this? Is it just the way the world works? Is equanimity – or continued suffering – the only solution?

Maybe. But maybe a little more awareness of our needs, and how they (mis)match those of others, might provide some early warning.

Wouldn’t that be great?

– Bob

2 comments
  1. dancres said:

    “Maybe. But maybe a little more awareness of our needs, and how they (mis)match those of others, might provide some early warning.”

    I find that with each career step I get a better idea of the questions to ask at interview to ensure my prospective employer and I have compatible needs. Notably though, things can change during employ, leadership changes and such. I have to remember to re-ask my questions at those points, don’t always do so well with that one.

  2. anssilehtela said:

    Do you mean a great worker? A great developer? A great father? A great friend. A great human being? A great football player?

    Is greatness anyway something more than a relationship? Too often I find that people assume their idea of greatness to be equal with others.

    Perhaps there is no remedy, but a bit less aspirations for greatness and bit more for empathy and understanding could be a start.

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