“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
– William Shakespeare
What is greatness? How can I find greatness? How will I know if I’ve found it, and am I talented enough to achieve greatness? These are questions I ask myself far too often.
Let’s begin with the easy question of what greatness is. People have many different perspectives of greatness and my view of it may differ from your own. In my eyes it’s very simple and dumbed down, so to speak. You’re either bad at something, good at something, or great at something. I’m going to use baseball as an example as I consider myself good at it. I have played for 30 years now and I’ve been the best player on some teams and the worst player on others. To consider myself great at ball, I would have been successful playing at the highest level; the MLB, which of course I was never able to do.
Playing in the MLB was always a dream of mine. Every game I played, I put all my heart and soul into it. I love the sport. I love the feeling and the pressure of knowing that I can make the difference with the next play. It’s that rush that drives me and is something I want to feel everyday. To be able to pay my bills by doing something that makes me happy is an added bonus. Like everyone else, I’ve had my bad games and failures, but that’s how you grow and become better. If you’re not challenged, you wont get better. If you haven’t lost, you’ll never truly appreciate winning.
“I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.”
– John Keats
I believe one root of greatness is talent, but the amount of talent separates the great from the good. One can also have the right amount of talent, but lack the work ethic to mold it into greatness. Some days I look back and wonder if I worked hard enough on the talent I had or if I just didn’t quite have enough of it to reach my dream. That’s something I may never know, but has never stopped me from continuing my search.
Throughout the years searching, I have found many talents and have become good at many of them. My sister actually coined a phrase that has become a running joke among my family and friends. “That’s Jeremy. He’s good at everything”. I absolutely hate it and appreciate it at the same time. I love my family and friends and I appreciate it because it’s a really good complement and some days it makes me smile. One reason I hate it is because I don’t believe it to be true. I’m bad at a lot of things and I’m not ashamed to admit that. The main reason however is because it reminds me that I haven’t found that one thing I’m great at. I know with all my being that I am destined for something greater.
I was driving home the other day and had a lot on my mind. “Rock Show” by Halestorm came on the stereo so I cranked it to maximum volume and sang along. As Miss Lzzy Hale belted out the lyrics a smile came over my face, and butterflies were in my stomach as I imagined being in that front row. Better yet, how awesome would it feel to be on that stage in front of thousands of people screaming your name and singing along with you word for word? Knowing you’re making a difference for every one of those people in one way or another.
“Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
– Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
That’s the kind of greatness I want to find. So how do I find that greatness? Yes I’m still looking for the answer to that question. Listen to the passion and energy in Lzzy’s voice, and it’s hard not to hear how much she loves doing what she does. She gives me goosebumps just listening to her. I simply do not have the voice for the stage as the only goosebumps I could give people by singing would be equal to hearing nails on the chalkboard. I’ve also tried guitar and bass, and those are definitely not talents I possess.
Watching Arejay Hale’s intensity and skill on drums is also very impressive and makes me want to play those. I remember as a child going over to my aunt Kathy’s place and getting so excited when she let me play with her drum kit. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was making a lot of noise and loving every minute of it. She probably hated it, but never complained or told me to stop. It was hard for me when Kathy passed. I wanted to hold on to those memories and make her proud of how good I got at playing.
So there her drum kit sits in my rec room. I have never taken lessons, I learned from watching drummers like Arejay who make it look so easy. I’m now able to keep up with a few songs, although I’m still struggling to get good. If I’m to become great I will need to take the lessons and work harder every day, but at the age of 35 that window may have closed. I will continue to work towards getting better, but realistically I will not be touring the world making differences as a rock star.
I will admit that I am a bit of a perfectionist, which in some cases becomes a curse. Nothing is quite good enough. I want to be better. In fact, this post has been edited over a dozen times so far and likely will be a dozen more before it’s published. When I came to Sam with the idea of starting a blog, it was in search of that greatness in a place I’ve never looked or knew anything about. To fill that missing void inside me in hopes that just maybe… I can make a difference here. I don’t know if I’ll ever be great at it, in fact I could be horrible at it, but it’s a new place to look.
Not everyone will agree with my perception of greatness. The examples I’ve used are career related and could be misinterpreted, but greatness is not measured by success or wealth. Greatness is somewhere inside everyone, you can find it, bring it to the surface, and apply it in your own way to make that difference. Whether that’s being an athlete, musician, writing or just life in general. Don’t be afraid to try new things in search of greatness, and never stop believing greatness will be found.
I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to change the world, but I’m also enough of a dreamer to never stop reaching for that. I only hope to find that greatness and make a positive difference that I can see and be proud of. For those of you who have found greatness, be grateful and don’t take it for granted. For those, like me, who have not found greatness yet. Never stop searching for it!
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
– Wilma Rudolph