You can be great. True greatness is trying one more day, going one more mile and lasting one more minute. True greatness is found by regular people in out-of-the-way places, modestly doing great things every day.
When my 2-year-old learned to ride a tricycle following a stroke and prolonged illness, I witnessed true greatness, grit and determination. Dragging her left side, she pushed and pushed until she rode. When a young man with Down syndrome who has had multiple hip surgeries walked the Buddy Walk this year, I witnessed true greatness. When my son worried more about his teammates than himself, and gave his football team all he had, even when they lost every single game of the year, I witnessed true greatness.
All these people could have given up, taken a knee or thrown in the towel, but they didn't. They tried harder, longer and did just a little more every day, win or lose. They all have one thing in common, they are driven from within. No matter what the challenges, they have a dream and will claw, kick and scream to reach it. I witnessed true greatness born from great adversity.
In Nike’s ad, find your greatness, you see the word London over and over again, London Nigeria, London Canada and all of the other Londons that will not host the 2012 Olympics. At the same time, you see athletes with so much heart and soul they move you. Wheelchair bound runners, aged fighters, one armed baseball players, legless runners and women playing team sports who all make a powerful statement.
Nike reminds us that the world is full of greatness and to find our personal or family greatness.
“There are no grand celebrations here, no speeches… no bright lights,”
is the beginning of the poetic video. Nike tells us that true greatness is not made by people seeking attention. True greatness is when we choose to do something difficult and soldier on, no matter who is looking.
For example, true greatness can be a mother that gets up to exercise before sunrise day after day. Like the woman in the film, she may be able to run marathons with Olympic speed, but she has chosen to spend her days as a mother and to be truly, quietly great. She will not make speeches or have bright lights; she will run alone in the early morning light, consistently great, day after day.
“But there are great athletes.”
The lessons in the film apply to more than sports. The motivation we witness is internal; people who have chosen to go beyond the minimum and to surpass expectations, with their only return being the skill they have mastered and the rewards of good health.
Ask yourself, are you internally or externally motivated? Do you follow your passions and feed your talents because you are hungry to excel or do you exercise, paint, sing or follow your talent because others might be watching or to please someone else?
Every once in a while we have the privilege of witnessing true greatness, whether it is in sports or other areas of life. Usually the person that is truly great at whatever it is they choose to do is internally motivated. Learn to choose to improve your skills and talents, because it makes you happy and you will find greatness. As an added bonus your children will learn to be internally motivated by watching you.
"Greatness is for all of us."
Somehow we have come to believe that greatness is for the chosen few, the super stars. Anytime someone beats his own record or improves her own talents, that person is great. Greatness is when we choose to improve something in our life because it is important to us, even if it is difficult.
Greatness can be taught by example. Anytime a child witnesses his or her parents following their passions and choosing to practice or engage in their talents, the child is learning. When your children see you push through the pain and exercise or do anything you are passionate about, they learn to have passion. Example is the best teacher when it comes to greatness.
“This is not about lowering expectations; it’s about raising them for every last one of us.” Nike reminds us to believe that all people can do more than they think they can. When we and our children dream, we should dream big. Never discourage your children’s dreams.
“Because greatness is not in one special place and it is not in one special person; greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.” The definition of greatness is, “Impressively large, large in number, bigger than others or more important than others of the same kind, much or extreme or more than usual.” Greatness is any moment that we go beyond others' or our own expectations of ourselves. Watch your children, and try to catch them doing good things. You will get more of what you pay attention to. Catch them being great.
Live life to its fullest, following your passions and dreams. Encourage your children to have dreams and remind them that greatness can be created with hard work, sweat and dedication; even when no one is watching and your only reward is knowing you have done a good job. True joy doesn’t come from the Gold Medal and the Olympic attention, true joy comes from doing better today than you did yesterday and reaching just a little higher to exceed your own personal expectations.
Shannon Symonds, Author of Safe House due to be released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an Advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising 6 children in Seaside Oregon. She loves to write, run and Laugh