May 25, 2011

Place yourself in the presence of Greatness


‘As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.’ ~Gandhi

Just being in the same room as greatness inspires you to new levels of the possible. Imagine the excitement when you are lining toes in the water with the 1500 best Ironman athletes in he world. The inspiration and palpable energy around you is what people spend years fine tuning their aerobic engines for just to be in that water. It’s a time I will never forget.

I have been lucky enough to spend time with remarkable business people, sports legends and some massively intelligent souls. I always have this sense to create after spending time with them. This calm that presents itself over me, yet leaves me epically excited. I wanted to rush out and make something. To create, at that moment.

And that’s just one tiny example of how being in the presence of greatness can transform us.

How to Find Greatness

Sometimes if you write to a great athlete living nearby (easy when Stellenbosch is around the corner), they’ll agree to have coffee with you. I often go to dinner with World Champions and I see how they affect the new people around them. They leave people with a feeling of inspiration.

If you do something as simple as going to the public library … you are surrounded by Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Emma Goldman, Bertrand Russell, Cervantes, Kant, Plato … an endless list of greats. A personal panel of greatness, urging you to create, urging you to be better.

I read the columns of Paul Krugman (the most important blogger in America), the musings of Scott Adams, The Last Post by Derek K. Miller. On the web, you can find greatness in the oddest corners.

We are currently enjoying the Giro d’Italia and soon, Le Tour de France, where the best athletes in the world will lift themselves up to accomplish feats of greatness.

I look for it in the people around me — someone creating an amazing experience using tea, someone helping others find their dreams … greatness is all around us!

You learn to see greatness when you happen upon it, and that is a true gift. It’s not just in famous people, but in commoners like us. If you learn to look. If you recognize it for greatness, and then use it to move you. I see athletes punishing their bodies for 6 months to finish an Iron Distance race in 16 and a half hours. GREATNESS!! You are my inspiration.

And soon, you use the greatness all around you to reach for greatness yourself.

And eventually, you realize that you’re always in the presence of greatness … because the greatness is within you.

And learning that? That’s the greatest gift ever.


This article is adapted from an original, found here.

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