What does it mean…really?
For a word so universally acclaimed, defining it presents a difficult task. Some say it is mighty deeds done by mighty people, others insist it is exceptional feats of strength, others still opine it is the excellence of execution or outstanding ability.
I can’t give it a one-sentence definition…but I can describe it:
You can hear it in Martin Luther King’s revolutionary ‘I have a Dream and Malcolm X’s defiant ‘By any means Necessary’.
You can see it in Michelangelo’s decoration of the Sistine Chapel and Davinci’s Mona Lisa.
It’s what causes your heart to soar when the refrain of Mozart’s Allegro hits you, and tense when Beethoven’s 5th Symphony has you in its grip.
It’s what held the world spellbound when Elon Musk’s Space X program successfully debuted.
It’s what caused your mouth to open when you first watched Michael Jordan defy gravity.
It was in the victory pose of Muhammad Ali after he rolled back the years to upset the odds and ‘dance’ again – champion one last time.
You acknowledged it when Michael Jackson glided across a stage, challenging the laws of physics; it touched something in your soul when Whitney Houston opened her mouth to sing.
It shivered down your spine the day you saw Nelson Mandela finally take his freedom walk, too long in the making.
You tasted it when Steve Jobs offered you a bite of his Apple.
It’s what caused the tears to spring to your eyes when you saw Mother Theresa divide bread among a crowd of starving children, and tapped you on the head when Gandhi demonstrated that a war could be won without violence.
It was fully displayed over 3 1/2 years in the life of the most extraordinary human being who ever walked the face of the Earth.
It’s a noun; an adjective; nebulous yet fully formed; strange yet somehow familiar. A paradox. An ideal. A concept. A word.
What IS it about this word that captivates us so? And why are we so enamored with those who we perceive to possess it? Is it really the preserve of a ‘blessed’ few?
What if we changed our perspective on the definition of Greatness? What if it refers to something more universal than a precocious gift bestowed on a minority? What if…ANYONE could be really, truly Great?
Greatness is a seed. A lifestyle. A Mindset. A Journey.
The Journey is not new. It’s been in every generation, a road waiting to be traveled by people of every color and every creed.
It isn’t a 21st-century idea or a 20th-century concept; not a Renaissance notion nor a Middle Ages philosophy.
It’s a permanent part of the human psyche that stretches far back and has its roots in the very beginning of mankind.