I know what you are thinking. Who the hell tells you to just be average? Don’t people always talk about being great? Achieve your potential to the fullest and at whatever you do, excel.
But aren’t there disadvantages to being someone great too? Great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela also had major tribulations at home. They may have achieved greatness but their personal lives were nothing but a turmoil heading for a recipe of disaster. Now you are thinking two things. First, not all great men have failed in their personal lives. Next, you would rather achieve greatness such as freeing a country or winning a Nobel peace prize and accept being a horrible father or a husband compared to being just any common man who is a letdown for everyone in his life anyway. Win Lose compared to Lose Lose.
Although, let’s not forget that everything comes with a price. You cannot possibly achieve greatness without passion and you cannot possibly be passionate without focusing on something hard enough and you cannot possibly focus on something hard enough without neglecting your other duties. The man coined Father of the Nation couldn’t manage to be a Father to his own son. While Mahatma Gandhi was focusing on fighting to bring down the British Empire leading his nation towards independence, his own son slithered into debauchery, transformed into various religions and finally met with a tragic end. Harilal Mohandas Gandhi was once quoted “He (Mahatma Gandhi) is the greatest father you can have… but he is the one father I wish I did not have.” Nelson Mandela on the other hand was married three times with his first two marriages leading to a divorce due to his political commitments and his inability in playing a decent role of a husband and a father. In between lobbying as an anti-apartheid activist and spending majority of his time in jail, he proved to be a disappointment to his family life. After serving as President of South Africa, he then chose to marry a third time at the age of 80. And although, these two men had found their greatest cause of existence, it unfortunately turned out to be the sole reason for their personal failures. So whether your greatness verses your failures is a Win Lose situation or whether the heartbreaking fact that it is the only reason behind it is a Lose Lose situation depends on what side of the not so green grass you are standing on.
I was chatting with my client the other day, he was a senior consultant working for a software company who was serving an unusually long notice period and was desperate to quit his job because he had plainly gotten bored of it. When asked him why is his company asking him for a 6 month notice period? He said “coz I am great at my job and they are too dependent on me so I have to train someone else before I go. How I now wish I was just an average employee”. Somehow, that just stuck with me. He said it so matter of fact like, as if it was the greatest achievement someone could make, be just an average employee, nothing great. Who cares right? When asking my girl friends “Would you marry a great man? “Uh what do you mean?” they would ask. “You know someone great whose name could go down in history, someone who has probably invented something or someone who just thinks out of the box perhaps a leader or a politician of the nation?” “NO!” they would strongly reply because they just want someone ‘normal’ to live their lives with. No outliers, just someone who manages to stay in between the lines.
Interesting I thought, while we circulate videos on facebook and read thoughts for the day reminding us to strive to achieve the impossible, dare to dream and become someone great in our life; deep down we endeavor for nothing but normalcy. Perhaps to be someone great is to just lead an average lifestyle successfully? Could it be that simple?
Eventually, all you have to achieve is being true to yourself. Be who you are because if you are born for greatness or achieving to be great then be sure you’ll eventually get there and pay the price if at all and if you are not, then there is nothing to worry about because you’ll just be average and maybe that isn’t so bad after all.