Want to Be Great? Stop Trying so Hard to Be Great

You’re sacrificing happiness for loose claps.

Kevin Horton
May 12, 2020 · 4 min read
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Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

People who stand out are those who refuse to trade their uniqueness for endorsements. They realize the superficial life is not worth the effort because it does more harm than good. And the damage is self-inflicting.

Greatness originates from understanding that you are all you’ll ever need to become. You grow more into the real you, not someone else.

Most of us have fallen for the trend of living in another person’s shadow. We see loads of people standing near those shadows, so we sprint to catch a glimpse of what it means to be great. But we deceive ourselves.

We lose ourselves.

You were once a child with unwavering imagination. You didn’t let anyone tell you which idea to present next. Instead, your instincts acted first.

There were no filters, no layers to dig through to reach an original version of yourself. It was just you being you.

Then you got older.

You saw shoes too big to fill as just the right fit. All the while, you left your shoes by the bedside. Those shoes carried your best qualities: the courage to express what you now hide, the inquisitiveness that led to active imagination rather than overthinking everything.

Life was freedom, and freedom brought life in creative form.
But who are you now?

There’s no need to worry. You haven’t lost yourself forever.

You simply have to go over and pick up those shoes again. They’re a little too small now, of course. You’ve lived long enough to gain a better understanding of the world, though you’re still learning.

You’ve allowed people to define greatness for you while they bind themselves to a life of comparison. And now you’ve come to terms with its vicious death grip.

Greatness looks a lot like you

It feels good to value other people. I love creatives who take bold steps to change the trajectory of an innovative world. They say, “This is what everyone else is doing, but here’s what I’m gonna do.”

Their view of authenticity recognizes the dangers involved in putting something unique out there. It foresees the negative criticism flowing from all corners of the world. But rather than losing sight of personal value, it loses care of what other people think.

What’s funny is that vulnerability opens us up to the worst feedback while at the same time giving us a sense of satisfaction in creating what matters to us.

You could give the people what they want.

You could strive to please their every desire.

Or you could give them what you want to give them, knowing those who need it will come. The results won’t be immediate. But who cares? You’re happy with what sits in front of you.

The truth is, people-pleasing burns you out. You’re never able to satisfy everyone. And your efforts to do so drains any drop of creativity left in you. Authenticity, on the other hand, allows for steady momentum. It lasts for the long haul.

At some point, we have to value our innovation. It should inspire us to step out of the boundaries we’ve set rather than remaining within them.

We make a habit of lessening our worth. It’s no wonder we belittle what comes out of us.

You can’t love one and hate the other. You must embrace both.

There’s nothing wrong with humility. It grounds us. The profoundness of it keeps us from feeling our heads with air and having them burst in disappointment.

Yet, without constant personal affirmation — without self-kindness — we run the risk of losing touch with true greatness.

Sure, we’ll share stories about self-care tips, productivity hacks, and mindfulness tactics we think people will appreciate. But are we engaging in those tips actively ourselves?

It helps to practice what you preach.

  • Read what draws you.
  • Write what’s on your heart.
  • Listen to what pulls you closer to what matters in your life.

Those activities are often guided by what’s popular. Whatever the majority likes, you have to like it too.

I call this ignoring yourself. It pulls you farther away from who you are to arrive at the kind of person you secretly despise. Then it affects what you create and why.

You cannot share what you do not have.

And even when you do, it won’t be long before you’re throwing yourself into a dumpster. That’s because you know what’s happening on the other side of the screen while others clap their hearts out.

Isn’t that what you wanted all along — approval?

Deep down, you know that’s not enough to fill that empty hole in your heart. It doesn’t sink deep enough. Authenticity is the only thing that can.

Make sure what you share is what you seek to live out when the computer shuts off. Otherwise, you won’t experience real happiness. It will only be superficial.

Do you want to be great?
It’s okay if you do.

Or do you want to be yourself?
That’s as great as it gets.

Kevin Horton is a photographer, student, modest book-worm, and future web developer with a new-found love for writing. He writes helpful words about creativity, productivity, and the enjoyably simple life.

Thanks for reading.

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