I would have never guessed that I would write a blog with such a title. In my dear wifey’s words, “This is so cheesy!” But here I am, writing about big words and lofty ideals. So bring in the wine and let’s talk about cheese and greatness.
By definition, only a few can be great. I mean if everyone is great, then no one is. A high school kid’s math skills would have been considered great a few years ago, but now they are not. As humanity progresses, and the tricks of the trade get shared, the definition of what is great in a particular field changes. Greatness pushes humanity forward.
Greatness creates awe and inspiration and confidence. But not everyone aspires for greatness. Great people are like soldiers fighting wars in their respective fields so that the rest can go about their routines without fuss. So greatness, like choosing to become a soldier, is a call to arms. It is not for everyone and involves risk. People who aspire for greatness are usually mocked until they reach a certain level of achievement. This makes them lonely. Not everyone wants to climb Mt Everest, so be prepared to climb alone.
Greatness comes by doing hard things. Hard things are disorienting and force you to unlearn. Unlearning means the ability to throw away your painstakingly earned knowledge and start again from scratch. So is there an upside? A couple. First, greatness is a constant process of learning and few things are more exhilarating than the thrill of discovery. Greatness will also force you to look deep within for motivation and that itself makes you a better person. Second, if you are able to achieve greatness, you get a lot of respect from people around you. Like the brave soldier who survives terrible conditions and manages to defeat the enemy, or like the mad scientist who takes on radiation to discover new laws of Physics, or like the crazy activist who risks getting killed for demanding justice.
Great acts make life better for everyone. As we add new members to our team, this is the message I want to give. We aim to do great work. This is going to be painful, you will have to unlearn, solve hard problems and disorient yourself. There will be scary cliffs and snow storms and slippery rocks on this journey. In the end though, the view will be worth it.