I do not dare to be great.
I dare to think, hope and believe that I can do great deeds.
Greatness is accomplished in direct proportion to the good our deeds do for others. Measuring the quality of a deed’s greatness and goodness is an imperfect science from the start.
Herein lies our challenge: To overcome expectations, perceptions and biases and break through to accomplish something is a personal battle between potential, delivery and performance.
Periodic greatness is the result of overcoming obstacles. True greatness comes from removing those obstacles so that others won’t have to overcome them.
Is it great to have unfair advantages, to use them and maintain them? Or is it far greater to dare to disassemble them from the root cause, thus clearing and leveling the playing field?
Great leaders, whose actions have changed history for the better, often did so because pressures forced them to. Like striving for the Jeffersonian dream of true democracy—unattainably perfect, yet well worth the pursuit.
Leaders are not born, nor are they groomed. Leaders are forged over time by cause and effect. Often, great leaders are virtually drafted by their own visions of a better way, of what is possible, or of what could be. This occurs when they are at the crossroads of their existence and a world-at-large that is ripe for their concepts, ideas, and attitudes to be set free.
Sensitive people, like King, Gandhi, and Jesus displayed compassion and empathy for their fellow man through personal sacrifice. They saw and knew instinctively what must be done. Then they set about making their dream, the goal, partial reality, first.
Incrementally leading by example, their focus cleared beyond hopeful aspirations until a new reality was born for many, individually and collectively.
Great leaders make the world a better place by elevating everyone within it.
While some leaders choose to identify others for sacrifice, picking winners and losers in the process, that is not great leadership. That’s delegation of responsibility with a sole goal of minimizing personal risks and losses.
Leadership is finding the most plausible course of action in consideration of overall betterment. Leaders dare to go where others can’t or won’t. They, by their actions, inspire others to believe in the possibilities of their actions and, at a certain point, the two intersect at tangible results. Without leaders, we flail about, struggling within ourselves and divided against others.
Three areas measure the greatness of leadership: First, we are challenged by great leadership to look within ourselves and to ask what more we can do internally and externally.
Second, we are challenged by great leaders to understand our individual worth within the cause. Through these experiences we represent our very being, transform our surroundings and change our environment for the better.
Third, great leaders enlighten us as to our abilities and opportunities at critical junctures in our potential, thereby changing the perspectives, perceptions and opinions that are brought about by our actions or inaction. Greatness can be seen before, during and after.
With greatness comes responsibilities that are entrusted to each of us: To reach ever forward, delivering our best, while remembering to reach back to help others. To never use the power and influence we have over others purely for personal or financial gain.
A lot of great men died poor but have left others richer as a result of their selflessness.
Our ability to transform and transition is the greatest asset we have to fully reach our own potential while doing our part to help others reach theirs. Truly great human beings accomplish great things that transcend time and space and continue to benefit the rest of us long after they are gone.
(Sean C. Bowers is a progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the nation’s third oldest Black newspaper, The New Journal and Guide of Norfolk, Va. for the last 19 years. His book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available at V1ZUAL1ZE@aol.com and he does do large-scale solutions-based presentations.)