What is Greatness?

An article I wrote April 2008.

You can do it if you put your mind to it.  If there’s a will there’s a way.  No, wrong.  You can’t do it and there is no way.  Well, maybe.  Yeah, people have achieved great things throughout history, but there are two reasons why.  One, they were born with the ability.  I’m not saying I believe in predestination, but no one born a slow runner became fast, no one born a bit mentally slow became quick witted, and no one born short became tall.  Two, somebody had to be it — right place, right time. We often look at coveted positions in society and marvel at the lucky S.O.B. that has the spot.  But think about it: the president of the United States, someone’s going to get elected; the star in the next movie, somebody’s gotta play it; the fastest man on earth, someone’s gotta be it — the list is almost infinite.  Is it the hard work and dedication of an individual that gets him into a prestigious position, or is it more the position that chooses him?

There is, of course, the argument that natural born talent alone cannot make you successful.  Even if you’re the smartest person in the world, you still have to go to law school to be a lawyer, and medical school to be a doctor.  True.  But what if, like eye color, your level of determination is also possessed from birth?  I recently read an article that proclaimed that the level of testosterone, which is genetic, affects the level of competitiveness in a person.  It would follow that some people may be born more determined than others.  There could be the real recipe for success: a person is born extremely talented in a activity, and born with the rigorous work ethic to take that talent places.  Just don’t die and be yourself, right?  Were Michael Jordan, Martin Luther King Jr., John Elway, Bill Gates, etc., being courageous in their accomplishments, or just being their programmed selves?  If the above makes any sense, in a context, a server at the local diner may have pushed herself harder than Tom Brady to be great, but to no avail.  To resemble reality a bit better, maybe the first two sentences should be replaced with the saying, “you either got it or you don’t.”  It’s just a thought.


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