Greatness: something you’re born with, or something you achieve?

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

– Mark Twain 

I was so inspired by this post on the blog ‘Of Undisputed Origin‘ that I just had to comment on it further here. It discusses what makes people great. Is it a trait some people are born with, or something we can all work to achieve? There seems to be a notion in this society about greatness and talent being something innate in a special group of people, the message being that not everyone is destined for greatness.

I believe greatness stems from repeated, consistent, dogged hard work. You have to work  towards your greatness every single day. I feel that to call people “naturals” or “gifted” is a tad insulting. It robs them of all their hard work, their perseverance. And it’s the belief in inherent greatness that robs the rest of us of our ability to become great as well. The mentality it encourages is “Well, I’m not one of those naturally talented people so why bother? I’m not even going to try.”

This point of view makes us weak, it makes us lazy. Now, I’m almost certain that Yo Yo Ma had more natural talent at playing the cello than say, gymnastics, but it doesn’t mean he just woke up one morning being the best cellist of all time. He played and played and played. Every day. Even when he was tired. Even when he was sick. He worked bloody hard.

I do believe, however, that some of us are perhaps born with more of that determined, focussed nature than others. Some people have a natural drive, a natural perseverance, while others are more troubled by fears and doubts. I don’t mean that great people don’t have fears and doubts, they do. But they have a more natural ability to overcome them
Some of us are natural born fighters; others of us have to fight to be fighters.

What do you think?


7 thoughts on “Greatness: something you’re born with, or something you achieve?

  1. I totally agree with you. I know two boys who are both taking piano. One loves playing, can grasp the concepts easily, and will often sit down and play for fun. The other struggles with the concepts, but still practices a lot, even though it isn’t a passion for him. I think it speaks to the fact that hard work and determination are necessary for success. Even those who are naturally talented in an area still need to work on their skills.

    Liked by 1 person

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