Greatness means different things to all of us.
Greatness for me is about leading a life of difference. It’s about knowing I made the biggest impact possible and gave it 100%. It’s about leading a life I will feel utterly and deeply satisfied with when I leave this earth.
Each day we have a choice, to choose to do the ordinary or pursue a life of greatness.
Being great isn’t easy, or else everyone would do it.
Greatness lies in the early mornings. Greatness lies in waking up before sunrise. Greatness lies in doing it when no one is watching.
Yet it is not impossible. It is available to everyone who has the right mindsets, is willing to put in the work and the effort.
Dare to Be Different
“This just in: you can’t take the same actions as everyone else and expect to outperform.” In order to be great, you have to be different from the crowd.
In a world of 6 billion people, you have to be willing to lean into your creative differences with conviction.
If you take the same actions as someone else, how can you expect a different outcome?
In “Zero to One,” Peter Thiel argues that the greatest advancements in the last 30 years have come in the field of technology. Techies represent a subset of people considered DIY-ers (“do it yourselfers”). Many dropped out of formal institutional academies to create their own success by reading blogs, chatting on forums and experimenting with various technologies.
Innovation isn’t bred by listening to conventional wisdom and repeating the same actions from the past. It’s bred through experimenting and doing. It’s bred by being different. It’s bred by doing things that may not work.
It Isn’t Easy Being Different
“There are two paths, and I took the path least traveled.” – Mark Twain
The simple truth is it’s not easy to be different. We worry how others will perceive us, what others will think if we fail or how our reputations may be affected.
Human beings are hard-wired for connection. We act in ways that will enhance connectivity rather than alienate us from our social circles.
Anytime we take a ‘risk,’ we’re embracing an action that may not be positively received by those immediately around us.
Our boss, colleagues, significant other or family, may not entirely agree with it. Our minds may perceive that we’re “jeopardizing” these relationships. This can paralyze us back from doing ‘x’ because of the perceived consequences.
Understand action is necessary, and that perceived consequences are usually less severe than you imagine.
“There is a great deal of wisdom in these two words. What’s idiosyncratic is rarely comfortable… and in order for something to be comfortable, it usually has to be conventional. The road above average runs through unconventional and uncomfortable behavior.”
Dare to Be Wrong
Inevitably, you’ll be wrong. There is no way to greatness without making mistakes and being wrong. Accept this.
Starting anything may turn out to be a terribly wrong venture, but you will never know unless you start. Don’t let the idea of “this may never work” stop you from trying.
If you’re waiting for the moment where you’re 100% confident and everything is perfectly aligned, you’ll be waiting your entire life to make a move.
Want a new relationship? Want a new job or to make more money? Create a situation where you will have to take drastic action to achieve what you desire.
Necessity is the birthplace of innovation. As long as you keep fostering your comfortable but not ideal environment, it will continue to linger. It will linger as long as you permit it.
Understanding you will be wrong along the away gives you the courage and freedom to make the critical decisions that are holding you back.
Life is not meant to be a perfect score card. It’s supposed to be messy, dirty and imperfect. We’re meant to make mistakes and get things wrong. So get out there and have some fun.
Dare to Look Wrong
Daring to be wrong and daring to look wrong are two different things.
In a world so focused on image, we strive so hard to keep our reputation flawless.
We post pictures of our perfect lives on Instagram and share how happy we are on Facebook. We’re so eager to communicate the image of happiness and success to our social circle. We fear showing our moments of weakness and darkness.
To pretend that we’re happy 100% of the time is foolish and is damaging to ourselves.
For a long time, I struggled with being bisexual. I felt pressure to fit a certain mold. This created depression and anxiety in my life, until I start to come to terms with it. Part of this was coming forward publically, which I did on one of my podcast episodes.
These pressures to act and be a certain way only contribute to the rising rates of depression, anxiety, and mental illness.
Maybe if Facebook had a sympathy button for all the times we fucked up, we’d graciously share our faults. Or if we could have an alter ego profile for sharing what troubles us, we’d have a more authentic depiction of our lives.
Humans innately make mistakes. We’ve been flawed since our days in the garden as Adam and Eve, and that’s a thing of absolute beauty.
As children, we laughed and brushed off our embarrassing moments. Now we look around after we fall and wonder, who saw that? It doesn’t matter. Embrace your mistakes. Be willing to look wrong.
Looking Right Can Be Difficult
At certain times you will make choices that your friends and family won’t agree with. Breaking up with someone or quitting a long-standing job may not look like the best course of action in the immediate future.
Understanding what you want and your vision for the long term is important if you’re going to make the correct decisions.
Your decisions may not make complete sense to everyone immediately, but they don’t have to.
Remember, looking right can be harder than being right, which may result in temporary criticism or feelings of embarrassment.
The road to greatness is not easy and is not guaranteed, yet it is a rewarding journey. It’s the path that will lead you to exotic unknown parts. It’s the path that will lead you to giving back. It’s a path that will lead you to discovering your deepest potential. I sincerely hope you consider.
“It’s those who believe they can that should take a chance on being great.”
This post was inspired by Howard Marks post, “Dare to Be Great II.” Howard Marks is a highly regarded investor and the CEO of Oaktree Capital. In his initial memo, Marks purposed a scenario about what a portfolio manager would have to do to ensure he finished in the top 10% of all stock market portfolios in a given year. His original memo can be read here.
Yours truly and here to inspire,