3 Pillars of Greatness
This blog post has stemmed from a book I am writing at the moment. It is a result of some reflections I had recently when reflecting on what it is that makes a great life.
Having relentlessly studied many of the world’s greatest minds now for over 10 years there are lots of things that I could write down that I believe constitute a great life.
But whilst I was travelling recently, somebody asked me the question and having thought about it, I narrowed it down to 3 core principles, in which all others branch off.
The first of these core principles for a great life and the most important of all I think is to BE YOURSELF. To be yourself in a world which would prefer it if you fit in. It’s no easy feat to be yourself, to express yourself fully in your own unique ways.
First of all you must take the time to understand what that means. You need to get to know yourself and we all know that most people are far too busy to do that. But what does that even mean? To get to know yourself? Well firstly it means listening to your own inner wisdom. And that means slowing down enough so you can actually hear what your inner wisdom is telling you.
The great psychologist, Professor Abraham Maslow who defined the highest state of a well fulfilled life as being self-actualized, said that in order to reach this level of personal growth and development we must learn to be independent of the good opinion of others.
To be independent of the good opinion of others.
That means to not seek approval. It does not mean to disrupt or disobey, it just means to follow your own path and make your own choices based on what your inner wisdom is telling you.
But for many this is far too scary. So they fill every waking minute with something to do, rushing from one thing to another, hoping that those scary deep truths won’t pierce their brain and that somehow that quiet inner voice will just go away.
How many people do you think are guided in their life by seeking approval?
Seeking approval from family, friends, bosses, co-workers, media, journalists, even strangers?
And the hyper connected world we live in now doesn’t exactly help us with not seeking approval does it?
Battling it out to present the best highlights reel on social media to show everybody how great your life is.
Comparisonitis - The compulsion to compare one's accomplishments to another's to determine relative importance.
Being yourself means that you make a choice to live your life on your terms, doing things in your own unique way. Not trying to be like everybody else.
A very difficult thing to do if you are always seeking approval from others, wouldn’t you agree?
But all great minds, all great leaders that I have studied have gone about their lives in their own unique way. If you study great athletes, great business minds, great leaders from history, you will find people that had the courage to follow their own path, their own intuition, their own way of doing things regardless of what other people thought.
Yes they met opposition. Yes they met ridicule. Yes they met resistance. But in the end, this belief in themselves, this trust, was the very thing that lead them to their success.
Step one is to learn to trust yourself more and the easiest place to start is by making decisions based on what your inner wisdom, your intuition, is telling you. The more you do this, the more attuned and stronger your intuition becomes, just like a muscle.
The next core principle is VISION.
A vision for your life. What is it you want to achieve in your lifetime? This is not your list of New Year’s resolutions. I mean your life.
Most people over-estimate what they can achieve in one year and under-estimate what they can achieve in ten.
The problem is that the furthest ahead the majority of people think is approximately 12 months.
Most people spend more time planning their summer holiday than they do planning their life. And the most common excuse I have heard for justifying this is “I wouldn’t know where to start”.
It is a case of head down, carry on.
Life on the hamster wheel. Or the treadmill. Whichever you prefer.
All well and good, IF that is what you want that is.
In order to get clear on what you want, you must first give yourself time to actually THINK about it. Stop. Reflect on some powerful questions.
How do you want to be remembered?
What is most important to you in life?
If you could do anything, be anything, have anything, what would it be?
The first step is quite simple really. You turn off your phone. You turn off the TV and all other distractions. And you take out a piece of paper and a pen and you think about all the things in your life that you would like to be, do and have.
The most obvious ones will come out first like the nice car, nice house, happy family, etc. Then after a while you might find the exercise a bit harder forcing you to really think about what you want. This is the place where you get the best answers, this is where your intuition speaks to you things you may have forgotten about, things you have always wanted to do will surface.
This exercise really should be done in schools. But that is for another post.
Great people know what they want. Think about great leaders, the passion they have for their vision is what influences people to go on the journey with them.
The vision drives the passion.
People admire people with a vision. It’s an attractive quality. Being a sheep is not an attractive quality.
The third and final principle is mastering your MIND.
The key to implementing the first two principles is taking control of your mind. Your mind is at the root of everything, every decision you will ever make.
I never have understood why people really don’t take more time to understand the most important device in their lives.
Yes the most important device before you think of your smart phone.
Your MIND is everything.
Most people would agree that health is incredibly important and I agree. Without good health how can we enjoy our lives? But your mind is the key to great health. Where do you think decisions are made?
Whatever it is you are trying to achieve, the answer lies in your mind.
All emotions stem from the way you think. Think positive thoughts and you will feel positive emotions. Think negative thoughts and you will feel negative emotions.
Therefore you must learn how to take charge of your own brain. You must understand how it works. How to direct it in ways which will support you not hinder you.
I will need another article, even a book, to begin to explain the workings of your mind. However becoming aware of your own thoughts and mental processes is the start.
People argue things such as staying motivated, determined, mentally tough, happy, working hard, staying focused, being confident, having self belief are all vital components of being successful in life and I would agree. However, all of these things stem from the way that you think.
We all think differently but the one thing that the great minds have is that they think positively about themselves. They have self belief. The thoughts they have are empowering. They have control of their mind. They are not ruled by it, they are the commander of their thoughts.
If you can learn to become the commander of your own thoughts, tell me, what is the limit for you?
You can choose to see the world any which way you like.
It is not the events of your life that define you. It is the meaning you give to the events.
This is so apparent in the work I do within sport. The best athletes choose to let go of the negative events much quicker than the rest. They realise that negative events will happen all the time and it is their own mindset towards these events which has more impact than anything.
Thank you for reading.
With Positivity as always,
Martin Robert Hall.