MADE FOR GREATNESS
We all admire greatness, and by that I mean high performance or achievement. Books like Good to Great by Jim Collins become national best sellers because people are fascinated by the topic. But why? Have you ever stopped to think about what is so good about greatness?
It seems like the draw to greatness is in our DNA. Maybe that is a result of evolution. Survival of the fittest means only the strong survive. Maybe only the great thrive.
Or is there an anthropological reason for our love of greatness? Maybe looking up to high performing individuals is just part of being human and it's always been that way.
Or perhaps the answer lies in psychology. One possible Freudian explanation: we look for greatness in others that we couldn’t find in our parents or can’t find in ourselves.
There may be some truth in all of the above. But fundamentally, I think we admire greatness because, as human beings, we are uniquely created for its achievement. Quite simply, we are designed for greatness.
Every person on earth is capable of achievement, and even the smallest and most humble can be great. From the moment of our birth, we are stamped with the label: “Made for Greatness.”
ADMIRATION TO ASPIRATION
So why is it so easy to admire greatness in others, yet so hard to aspire to it ourselves, especially as we become adults?
Well, life happens. And in adulthood, it seems to happen twice as fast. Pressures of career, family, or volunteer commitments often get in the way of meaningful personal achievement. We get busy, stuff piles up, and we find ourselves overwhelmed.
At least, that was my experience in 2015. As a new dad in a new consulting job in a new a city, all of the above pressures mounted and I was at a breaking point. After several months, I realized I had hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, and mild depression. Even worse, I was mediocre in all aspects of life from my work to personal relationships. I had all but abandoned my many hobbies from travel to learning languages to CrossFit.
I saw clearly that this was not the greatness I was made for, so I looked to the people I admired for inspiration.
Both of my parents were examples of greatness for me, and my dad’s example as a working professional with lots of outside interests was just the model I needed. Growing up, he showed me that life as a young "knowledge worker" and busy parent can be far different from the dismal experience I was living. I remember clearly that, despite his corporate commitments, coaching, and volunteer fundraising for my school, he found the time to pursue his many interests and hobbies.
In fact, I would argue that my dad became a modern-day renaissance man. Amazingly, he did it mostly in his off-time. He even learned Polish during his twenty minute bike ride to work each day.
His example was admirable, to say the least. But I knew that my life wasn’t going to change simply by admiring his pursuit of greatness. I needed to strive for my own personal greatness, become my own renaissance man. That is what I aspire to from now on.
THE RENAISSANCE MAN REBORN
So, what is a renaissance man? Well, during the Renaissance, a person who had mastered many skills or had expertise in many fields was called a renaissance man, or as many Italians were referred to: un uomo universale. Figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Leon Battista Alberti excelled in fields as diverse as painting, sculpture, science, and sport. They believed that we should make the most of the one life we have, expanding as many talents as we can in our lifetime.
But the pace of life has increased dramatically from the Renaissance through the Industrial Revolution and into the Digital Age. Is there really time to master as many things as da Vinci? Maybe not. Still, despite the time crunch we're under today, people can and should pursue their unique interests and develop their strengths, especially parents. Like I said earlier, we are made for greatness. It's what makes us human and, in the big picture, makes humanity interesting for generations to come.
Whether you're a teacher, firefighter, consultant or coder, I believe you have great gifts to share with the world. And if you're a parent, you have the added bonus of sharing those with your kids. Frankly, I think every dad should be a renaissance man with multiple talents to impress upon their kids.
So I launched The Renaissance Dad, a site dedicated to helping people rediscover their strengths, and 10x their talents.
It's a monumental task, but I want to help busy people, dads especially, challenge themselves to achieve greatness in all areas of life. I hope you enjoy the personal stories, travel adventures, book reviews and product recommendations, Paleo recipes, and commentary on music, art, fitness, and sports. These are the places I find inspiration to be a great father and an interesting man, an aspiring Renaissance Dad.
You may not be a genius or a master sculptor, and that's okay. Neither am I. But I bet you have some amazing skills that, with some work, could improve your overall performance and bring you a lot of joy and fulfillment in all areas of your life.
Remember, we were all made for greatness.
- Stephen Joseph Caruso