I used to brew my own coffee. Just a simple cup of java.
That and my morning run were the only cups of greatness I needed to get my day going. Then Howard Schultz brought me a plethora of Starbucks stores to my neighborhood. And so with the installation of a coffee shop on every corner between my home and work, it became impossible to avoid outsourcing this simple pleasure.
Soon my coffee became complicated. A double non fat Cinnamon Dolce. “With or without whip, ” the barista says. Sometimes I get the whip, and more often I shouldn’t.
When did simple pleasures escape us? When did we get hung up on the extras?
Greatness used to be simple and like coffee, it’s become overcomplicated.
We get wrapped up in the definitions we assign. Why? Well, because it’s human!
At one point in my life, greatness was the amount of hours I put in at work. Each year, I would marvel in the greatness of my greater AGI (adjusted gross/great income), except that the government just takes more when you earn more. I would climb this ladder of greatness in the corporation thinking that achievement would define me. Except, it didn’t. In fact, it went unappreciated.
Then I got married. My husband and the life we created overnight became my greatness as did living the good life as a DINK (Dual Income No Kids).
Then I got pregnant. Greatness once again came with becoming a parent. I wasn’t expecting a little bundle of joy so this was a great and delightful surprise. And as a new mom, my greatness got even “greater” doing all of the above. As greatness got more intense, so did my coffee. After all it needed to be with all the extra energy I needed to be “great”.
Then somewhere along the way everything changed.
I found that greatness had both everything to do and nothing to do with all of these things. Greatness is about my wonderful family but it’s mainly about the time I spend with them, the meaning I have in the work I do, and the people I have put in my village. It’s about the conscious choices I make every day.
Two rights don’t make a wrong and two wrongs don’t make a right.
Strangely it took a working in the right role, wrong time and wrong boss as well as the right role in the wrong company to test my fight for greatness. Greatness wasn’t that grand title of to-be Vice President or the paycheck that came with it. It wasn’t traveling all over the world trying to prove I had it figured out.
Greatness was about knowing when to stop, saying “no thank-you”, and walking away. Greatness was knowing I was better than something and having the courage to leap. It was about having the discipline to know what was important, taking a risk, but also knowing when to say “when”.
You see because greatness is about showing strength when its easier to stay comfortable. Greatness is about challenging the status quo. It’s about making moves and apologizing later. It’s about doing things people say you can’t do because they don’t have the courage to do them on their own. It’s also about teaching others to write their own stories, share them and grow.
Because true greatness exists in being great in little things.
So my coffee is still a little complicated, but at least I can say my work and life are great.
What is your greatness and what are you doing to fight for it in this new year?