Greatness acts it doesn’t wait to see what everyone else is going to do. – Cornell Thomas
What does that mean?
This is a quote about following your own path. It is about the difference between leading and following. It is about knowing who you are and what you want from life.
Sheep follow the leader. They wait. They look to the leader to see what they should do. Sheep are not what most people consider great. Yes, they exist and have use, but great? Not really.
You may not know exactly what you want out of life. However, you probably know enough about it to know when you’re moving towards it, or away from it.
This quote is about breaking from the crowd when they are headed somewhere that moves you away from hat you want. It is about being great enough to take that step, and not worry about what the others are doing.
Why is independence important?
Yes, humans are a socially oriented creature. We form groups, tribes, associations, or whatever. We tend to work together. That has advantages. But it also has limitations. There are times when everyone else will want to keep doing what they have always done. To move forward, we have to be willing to simply do, even if no one else is with us.
Note that the saying doesn’t place a judgement value on the greatness. It could be a great success. It could also be great in some other manner. Some of life’s most spectacular failures have been from great acts, by doing something other than what everyone else was doing.
But that takes strength and the ability to stand alone, in short it takes an independent spirit. Not everyone is ready to completely change the world in an afternoon. But we can take small steps, both in our own lives and with those around us, to walk the path we feel leads to greatness. Even if no one else is on that path.
That’s not always easy, but it can be done. Like any action, like any muscle, like any habit, you start small and repeat until you become better or stronger. For some it will be easier, but we can all get better, if we are willing to try. Are you willing to take your first steps towards being great?
Where can I apply this in my life?
That would depend on where in your life you feel sufficiently confident in yourself to turn your back on the crowd and strike out in your own direction. Consider an artist. A few are naturally different, and create in a unique manner from their first project.
Most start out by learning from others. We start by working using the techniques of others. We progress from the simple to the complex. We follow patterns and, with patience and a little skill, make progress. But at some point, we have to do what moves us, to follow our own path.
Think about how many people have been called “The next Leonardo da Vinci” or “The next Michelangelo” – well besides a couple of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It just isn’t the way greatness shows itself. Greatness may start with imitation, but it won’t be great until it acts on what it truly is inside.
Think about the great ideas of the modern world. The microwave wasn’t how food was supposed to be cooked, but a radar company noticed interactions between food and radio waves, and the Radar Range was invented. Not only was it new and radically different, they weren’t even a food related company.
Automobiles grew from the coach-and-buggy technology. Everything was done by hand, custom, and unique. That also meant very slowly and that made them quite expensive. Ford figured out how to bring the industrial revolution to the automotive industry, and the world changed. That wasn’t the direction the crowd was going, was it?
After a century of expendable rockets as a way of moving objects off the face of the earth, NASA came up with the Space Shuttle. That was a different direction, and quite the opposite of what everyone else was doing. Reuse many different parts over again? That was a new direction.
Sir Richard Branson is now trying to do for spaceflight what the Wright brothers helped to do for passenger aircraft. Again, he follows some patterns of what came before, but has struck out in a new direction. Commercialization of space.
These are some monster sized steps away from the ordinary, away from the crowd and what had been done before. I urge you to take a moment or two to consider where in your life you do something, but can’t explain why, or simply say “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
For those things you’ve always done that way, consider why. It might still be the best way, but if you feel there’s a better way, look into it. As rare as it is for someone to do something great, it is even more rare to just try something and end in greatness. Do your research, and act on the results.
You can be great, but that’s hard to do if all you do is imitate others, or move with the crowd. When you hear the tiny voice saying “there has to be a better way,” heed it. Find the better way, and leave the crowd behind.
From: Twitter, @TonyRobbins
confirmed at : This quote turned out to be unsourcable, but it was too good to pass up! It is attributed to many different people, but Cornell Thomas appears to be the source.
Photo by Jeff Foust
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