“I was taught that everything is attainable if you’re prepared to give up, to sacrifice, to get it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it, if you want to do it badly enough…and I do believe that. I believe that if I wanted to run a mile in four minutes I could do it. I would have to give up everything else in life, but I could run a mile in four minutes. I believe that if a man wanted to walk on water and was prepared to give up everything else in life, he could do that.”
– Stirling Moss, excerpted from The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino
I first read the book I just quoted above over a year and a half ago. Feeling compelled a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it back off my shelf and have been idly flipping through my highlights intermittently since. That quote above hit me just as hard today as it did in February of 2011.
See, I do believe in many ways that under the right circumstances, we fickle, soft, flawed creatures (humans) are actually capable of doing just about anything we set our hearts on. Or that our hearts are set on, depending on your interpretation. Why do I believe this? Simply because any cursory examination of history will show that human beings have frequently achieved not only the pinnacle of what was thought to be possible, but have also achieved far beyond what has been thought to be possible at various times throughout our brief history. With that knowledge, even limited as it is, who am I to say that anyone is incapable of doing anything their heart is set on- anything that they dream possible?
Laurie Woodward has said before that, “Behind us, or perhaps above us, lies infinite power. And in front of us lies infinite possibility.” That statement alone summarizes this entire text far better than I can in far more words. (So if you want, you can re-read that quote, think on it for a minute, and then not read any more of this. Or keep reading. Your choice.)
I’ve yet to come across a human being in my lifetime whom I did not believe was capable of greatness. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that we are likely all meant for greatness. Each one of us is part of an ever-changing world. We each play a part in shaping our collective future. If a person goes into the desert and moves one grain of sand but an inch, haven’t they changed the world? What about the person who takes a struggling friend in and invests their time in helping that friend through their struggles? Certainly that person hasn’t cured a deadly disease or negotiated peace between world superpowers; but they have helped cure a person’s heart and negotiate peace inside that person’s mind. That alone is a feat of incredible accomplishment.
It used to be that fighting valiantly for a noble cause was considered great in and of itself. These days we find ourselves so concerned with our own greatness, or at least the image of it, that we refuse to strive greatly for anything, scared to fail lest we be revealed as the imperfect humans we are.
I submit to you this:
Make the choice to be great. Once you make the choice to be great- and I mean truly make that choice- it’s done. There’s no going back. But! You still have to decide on a daily basis what you’re going to do to advance yourself toward that goal. That’s why once you truly decide, it’s over. It can’t be a try. Yes, you can mentally insert a Yoda quote here.
However, I would also submit to you this:
It won’t be easy. But wait. If we’re meant to be great, why isn’t it easy? That doesn’t seem fair!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was never raised being taught that life was fair. In fact, I seem to recall some lessons to the contrary. But when we think about it, doesn’t that just about make sense? If we’re meant to be all that we’re created to be, shouldn’t it take all that we’ve got to get there?
Only too often, we’re our own worst enemies. We hold ourselves back from greatness because of a mixture of fear and pride. We limit ourselves. We build cages around our potential.
I submit to you this:
“You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13
“Go therefore and do that which is within you to do. Take no heed of gestures which would beckon you aside, and ask of no man permission to perform.” – Frederick Dey