In the Pursuit of Greatness

I have often been asked that what makes a person, great? Although there are many ways to be great at something like excelling in a career, skill, or sport, fulfilling a purpose, a goal, or a mission, I believe that most of the time, one doesn’t choose to be great, greatness chooses you instead. 

As Fyodor Dostoevsky beautifully puts it, “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”

The truth is, a dysfunctional life breeds greatness in people and the most promising are the ones who are wounded. But, it’s not the intensity of the wound that sets them apart, it’s their ability to communicate it. They tell better stories, not to us but to themselves. Stories of what they have been through and what they came out to be. 

To compensate for what was lost in the tragedy, their brain adopts a special narrative to do what other brains do naturally. This extraordinary narrative seeds a continuous desire of pulling their selves out of themselves towards what they need to learn to become whole, which later on grows into a passion. In short, they don’t choose their greatness any more than they can choose their passion and they can’t choose their passion any more than they can really choose their wounds. 

With all the wounds, it’s too painful for them to survive in the world that rejects them. So, they create a parallel world to escape and sometimes become so good at it that they can infuse it into the real one, finally changing the whole world. These are the ones we call visionaries, who can move between worlds and states of consciousness. What grants them such an immense ability to travel between worlds? 

I would say that they are magicians. They manipulate their victimization positively to themselves and others. You see, when a person has to sacrifice himself or his belongings for God’s will, he becomes a victim of that incident. So, a victim is someone who’s been to another world (such as a tragedy) and back and has stories to tell and it’s those stories that bridge one world to the other world. One story put out into the world joins others creating a learning community. After all, what stories are but deliberate vehicles for wisdom, if they are heard over and over again.

This wisdom grants them the ability to master their past, not through dominance but learning things about it just right down to the bones, to a point where they are fingertip close to manipulate that source code. Once they have changed that, it changes everything like magic. 

So, all I would tell you is to be kind to your inner freak and reach out to those dark wounded places in you that hold your source of guilt, anger, and shame. Whenever you are most vulnerable and broken down and most open to that inner freak, talk to him. Listen to his story and find out how to tell it. Maybe through painting, writing, or through creating anything, even starting a company. Write it and throw it onto the communal fire and let it burn so brightly that everyone rushes to see it.  

Yes, there will be times of failure and despair, when you will be lonely wondering what the hell you’re doing but that’s okay because that’s just how the story goes. So, tell it and tell it again and again because we all are made up of stories and scars and our scars are our stories. 

After all, as the great Dostoevsky says, “But how could you live and have no story to tell?”

Author: Hina Khan Palwasha

I define myself as a very creative, persuasive, determined, energetic and outgoing person with excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills and the ability to develop and maintain mutually beneficial internal and external relationships. I enjoy being part of, as well as managing, motivating and training, a successful and productive team, and can thrive in highly pressurized and challenging working environment.

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