Throughout history, there have been those who seem to rise above the rest in some way through the strength of their dedication and talent. They act as an example for humanity and show them what is possible. It is by following these people that we can achieve greatness of our own and ascend to the space that they occupy. Just as baby ducks learn to walk by imitating their mothers, humans learn to become greater by imitating the giants that came before them.
If you look at young children, they are constantly imitating their favorite sports star or their favorite actor. They look at their heroes with a constant sense of wonder. As we get older, we lose this sense of wonder and we stop trying to emulate our heroes. We turn into losers. We accept life as it is, rather than acting on our inner inclination to create something greater. We stop reaching and start settling. Our sense of wonder for our inner possibilities evaporates.
Great people never lose this sense of wonder. They are constantly studying other great people, looking for the things that made them great. They look at their heroes with wonder, no matter how successful they become. They are always trying to learn from their inspirations. It is as if they are artists who are designing their life and work with the inspiration of muses.
Muses act as guides for us to follow. When you simply haphazardly go through life without this guidance, you will find yourself losing your way. When you lose your sense of wonder and stop having muses, you shut off your sense of wonder in general, because they are from the same source. When you lose your sense of wonder, you have killed your chances for success, because the thing that makes great people great is the absolute sense of wonder they have for life. It is what drives them to be so creative and pull off great performances time and time again. If you cannot imagine yourself in a great man’s shoes, then you can never walk in those shoes. As Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest athletes of all time, said, “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
When you have a muse, someone you adore and desire to emulate, they act as a beacon for you to work towards. The desire to emulate and surpass your muses acts as a driving force in your endeavors. Even when you surpass them, you still feel that sense of wonder for them because they are the ones who led you there. Great people have certain common qualities between all of them that made them great. When you imbibe these qualities in yourself, then you too will become great. The way to learn these qualities is through meticulous study of the things that led them to greatness, motivated by a sense of wonder at their greatness and a personal desire to join them. It is often the biggest fan that becomes the greatest man, because he is the one that takes the most effort to learn from those who came before him. It is truly as Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
On an even more fundamental level, when you study great people, you see that they are ordinary people who have gone through setbacks just like you. When you see that they overcame those failures through hard work and will, you start to believe that you can do the same thing. Mark Twain said it best when he said, “Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” When you believe that you can become great, it happens, because what you believe determines what happens in your life. If your beliefs say that you can become great, then greatness will be the only result. One of the best ways to develop this belief is to see that great people are just like you and that you can overcome any obstacle, just like they did.
Anyone who wants to do anything great has to go through a great deal of hardship and toil. The greater the endeavor, the more pain you will experience in its pursuit. To endure and push through this pain that comes with greatness, a certain strength is required. This strength comes from passion for what one does, and inspiration. Once you find what you love, inspiration is the next key. Inspiration can come from anything including our loved ones. One of the best places to gain inspiration is from the confidence gained through the stories of our muses. The confidence that comes from knowing that greatness is possible for you too, can lead you to extraordinary things. This is because everyone wants to become great. When you believe that you can become great, then all your determination chases success.
Great people look at other winners and see the similarities. Losers look at winners and see the differences. Great people see themselves in the shoes of greatness and nowhere else; they simply do not see the penalties of failure. All that is in their minds is the world stage that they will occupy. When they see greatness, all they think is, “I am going to reach and surpass that one day.” They are not overawed by what came before. Rather, they use it as inspiration in order to carve their own mark on the world. They know that success comes from hard work and pushing through failure, and thus have the confidence to go through anything in pursuit of their dreams.
Losers look at great people, see the scope of their greatness, and say that it is impossible for them to reach it. They believe it is impossible for them to become legendary in their own right and that great people had some innate advantage that separated them. This stems from the fact that they haven’t learned the truth, which is that achieving greatness requires much toil and hardship. It is only those who make it through the hardship that become legends. However, losers do not know this, because they have not taken the effort to learn from great people, and therefore limit what they can do in life.
Great people have spent the time deeply understanding the stories of their predecessors. They don’t just see the greatness that is on display to the world. They have also taken the time to understand the toil that came before the brilliance. However, they also understand that the science of greatness is very simple. All that is required for greatness in any field is faith, dedication and hard work. Greatness is by no stretch of the imagination easy to achieve, but the way to get it is very simple. All that is needed is faith that you can achieve something, the dedication to push through challenges in front of the goal and the willingness to work hard and perfect one’s craft.
Losers want greatness to be elusive. This is because they believe that they will never achieve anything great and the so called elusiveness of greatness acts as an excuse for their lack of brilliance. They refuse to believe that greatness is as simple as the attributes of faith, dedication and hard work. Because of this, they spend time in mediocrity. They chase success strategies and coaches, believing that they will help them out of their rut. In truth, the only thing that will help them is accepting the fact that great people are not something special. They are simply ordinary people who possessed extraordinary levels of faith, dedication and hard work; attributes which are easily developed through passion for one’s work and inspiration.
The pantheon is available to all. However, there is a line that separates those in the world of mediocrity and those in the pantheon. Anyone can cross this line, but it requires a choice to go through much pain and hardship in the pursuit of what you desire. However, your reward far outweighs the pain; you will have become immortal. Your physical body will die, but your achievements and the impact that you have had on people will live forever. This is best expressed by Banksy, the famous graffiti artist when he said, “I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”
We often hear that talent is overrated and that hard work is just as, if not more important to success, which is true. However, I would like to propose that there is a third piece to the puzzle, which is perhaps the most important. This third piece is a sense of wonder, which motivates you to join your muses in the pantheon of greatness. This sense of wonder is evident throughout the lives of all great people. They were constantly dreaming in wonder about the things they were going to achieve, and their muses acted as guides on that path, without whom they would have been lost. When you learn from great people the qualities that made them great and see that they were simply ordinary people like you, you start to believe that you, too, can become great. If you develop the qualities of great people by learning from them and start believing that you, too, can become great, then greatness will be the inevitable result. Remember, there is power in understanding the journey of others to help create your own.