what would great look like?

Earlier today, I attended a fascinating and uplifting workshop by Dr. Jenny Bloom out of the Office of Appreciative Education. The title of this one-hour webinar was “Chronic Uncertainty: How to Approach the Future when it is Anything but Certain.”

I could write and reflect for hours on all of the inspirational and practical nuggets that Jenny provided, but what struck me most was this referenced quote from author, speaker and trainer, Cy Wakeman:

“What would great look like now?”

At first, I reflected on my answer and it was truly a restorative exercise. I encourage you to do the same to keep your life on purpose.

As my reflection continued, I started to dissect this idea of greatness, and I generated some guidelines for your consideration to secure that our pursuit of great is of and from God.

  1. Greater than Yesterday: My greatness is not determined by the greatness (or lack of greatness) in others. This is not a competition- that only adds to the division in our hearts and our communities. My greatness is measured only in my growth from my past.
  2. Great for Whom? This was and remains a major issue with the 2016 presidential campaign slogan and the presidency of President Donald Trump, “Make America Great Again.” Great for whom? Because when it was great for one population, it surely wasn’t great for others. If we are going to be great, it must be moving in the direction of greatness for all- and not defined on the terms of the majority and those in power.
  3. Great does not mean Perfect: Even the greatest of hitters in baseball did not succeed 6 out of 10 times. Perfection is not the goal because it isn’t possible. Greatness moves us to the best version of ourself today. It may look different tomorrow. We would benefit from asking ourselves each morning, “How can I be great today, not perfect?”
  4. Excuses begone: Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book Excuses Begone: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits, wrote “The power of your beliefs to keep you stuck is enormous. Those deeply ingrained notions act as chains restricting you from experiencing your unique destiny.” Greatness means freeing ourselves from the thoughts and the past that holds you back. Seeking external support might help you move away from stuck and into freedom.
  5. Start Small: There is a familiar Medieval worker’s quote or creed that speaks volume: “We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.” While life might feel insurmountable, take it step by step, day by day, stone by stone.
  6. Great According to God: What does scripture tell us about greatness? Well, a lot. Where I find peace and direction, at least these days, rests in the familiar passage from Micah in the Jewish Scriptures: “and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”(6:8)
  7. Great Service: A life well-lived is a life of service. Service occurs in the small and large acts, filled with care for another person. These acts of love bring purpose, despite external events.

It has been a year, and we still have two-and-a-half months to go, filled with an expected hostile presidential election, less sunlight, very different holidays and traditions, and rising Covid numbers. And this just brings us through December 31st, with even greater uncertainty with what awaits us around the corner in 2021.

None of this we can truly control outside of how we care for ourselves and others. If we choose greatness, as mapped out above, we will live a life on track, a life in service, and in union with God. Our actions will be considerate of others and for the common and greater good.

Yes, in a horrible time in our history, the invitation to greatness might feel far, far away. The truth is that it much closer than you think, and it can begin right now-just look above and look within!

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