On Greatness: Defining Personal Greatness



To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

~ William Shakespeare

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.

~ Buddha

For Mother’s Day this year I decided I would purchase my wife some Brighton jewelry.  We went to the new City Creek mall in downtown Salt Lake City for dinner the night before Mother’s Day to celebrate and afterwards we stopped by the Brighton store to pick out her gift.  After looking through the selection my wife decided to purchase the following necklace:

brighton true necklace

I was curious as to why she chose this one and she said it had many meanings to her.  I, of course, was hoping for the “true love” part of the meaning, but I knew there was much more to it than that.  My wife has deep faith and she strives to live according to it.  She lives what she believes.  She is true.

As you know, the purpose of this blog is to inspire greatness.  One dictionary definition of greatness is that it is a concept of a state of superiority affecting a person, object, or place.  As I repeated yesterday, FranklinCovey, the leadership training and consulting firm, defines business greatness into four parts:

  1. Sustained Superior Performance
  2. Intensely Loyal Customers
  3. Winning Culture
  4. Distinct Contribution

I agree with FranklinCovey’s definition of organizational greatness, which supports the dictionary definition as well.  However, I didn’t feel it was a strong enough definition for personal greatness.  I have been thinking about my own definition for personal greatness and have concluded that it really comes down to one word – TRUE.

As you may know, I believe in and coach executives on axiom leadership, which is to teach and exemplify values, principles and truths so clearly that it inspires alignment of hearts and minds.  Axiom leaders operate from a base of fixed principles or truths rather than making up the rules as they go along.  To effectively teach and exemplify you must have an understanding of the values, principles and truths you are teaching about.  You must believe them to your core.  You then must live the way you believe to inspire others to do the same.

In my opinion, personal greatness is when you are true to what you believe.  It’s not just words anymore, it is who you are.  You know your purpose, what you believe in, the values that govern how you act and interact, and your strategy to accomplish your objective.  Personal greatness is being true to your values, principles and truths.

When I was nineteen, I moved overseas and lived in South Korea for a couple of years.  My father would send me letters periodically with  news from home and words of encouragement.  At the end of every letter he would sign off with “Be Valiant and True.”  I didn’t really appreciate the message he was sending me then, but I do now.  He was encouraging me to discover who I was, what I believed, and then consistently live according to that truth.   (Nearly twenty-five years later I’m finally getting the message, Dad.)

Why am I sharing this?  My purpose is to inspire you to reach your full potential both personally and professionally.  To do that, it’s important to understand how to identify when you are performing at your full potential, when you are exhibiting greatness.  In my opinion, that means being true.

I encourage you to make the necessary choices and changes to live as you believe.  Choose to be true.

Choose greatness.


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