Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is only for the chosen few, for the superstars. The truth is, greatness is for us all. This is not about lowering expectations; it’s about raising them for every last one of us. Greatness is not in one special place, and it’s not in one special person. Greatness is wherever someone is trying to find it.
I’m reading Walter Gretzky’s book, On Family, Hockey, and Healing, and this is something that Mr. Gretzky tried to teach his kids. I can imagine that it could be difficult growing up in the shadow of your brother who would become known as ‘The Great One’ and trying to find your identity apart from him. Wayne Gretzky isn’t just a star – he is the ultimate superstar, a hockey legend. Two of his younger brothers, Keith and Brent, also played hockey, and their dad notes that they were also gifted athletes:
[Keith] was very, very good. But was he Wayne? No. Should he have been? NO! He was Keith. And he was a very good Keith, just as Brent is a very good Brent. This is the attitude we’ve had over the years. We tried to stress with our kids that everyone has something valuable to offer, and not everyone can be a superstar.
Greatness isn’t just for the superstars, for the athletes, for the business leaders. We can find our own greatness in whatever we choose to do, in our own way of contributing to the world. No matter what your position is, you have something special to offer.
It reminds me of a powerful scene from The Fault in our Stars:
Augustus: I always thought I would be a hero. I always thought I would have a grand story to tell. You know, something they would publish in all the papers. I mean, I was supposed to be special.
Hazel: You are special.
Augustus: Yeah, I know, but you know what I mean.
Hazel: I do know what you mean, I just don’t agree with you… I think you’re special. Is that not enough? You think the only way to live a meaningful life is for everyone to remember you. For everyone to love you. Guess what, Gus? This is your life. This is all you get. You get me, and you get your family, and you get this world, and that’s it. And if that’s not enough for you, then I’m sorry, but it’s not nothing. Because I love you, and I’m going to remember you.
Game Plan: Don’t compare your contribution to someone else’s. You are not Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Beyonce, or Hillary Clinton. You are you, and you are important. Find your own greatness.
Quote source: Nike