Friday, January 22, 2010

Giving Up or Giving In?

The day I learned to water ski I also gained a valuable lesson that I promptly shelved and rarely referenced until recently. Try as I might to get up on my skis I kept falling and filling my body cavities with more and more water. Finally as I was about to quit in frustration the generous friend who was teaching me yelled "stop trying so hard!" He yelled across the water, for everyone on shore to hear "you're trying to pull yourself out of the water by your own strength! Don't be so stubborn, let the boat do it!" Out of sheer anger I just laid back and thought "fine, and when I crash one more time, I'm outta here." Gunning the boat forward, he never glanced back as I glided up out of the water and began the thrill of water skiing.

For 10 years we've researched greatness in individuals and organizations. We examined the data from countless studies to identify characteristics, processes, and results which we published in Pathways to Greatness. I am pretty proud of what we've accomplished. But a conversation at a wedding recently hinted that my study was obsessed with goals and achievement. That conversation, along with others, made me question whether I was "trying to pull myself out of the water" rather than examine other ways to live greatness. Additionally some of my friends who are more versed in eastern concepts said that our study was very western in scope and focused too much on doing and not enough on being.

So, this year the Greatness Project will focus on developing or experiencing greatness through some inner work. Trust me, this will be murder for me. I am a typical American male with a western mindset, driven to achieve. I've only been conscious of this for two days and already I've had to stop myself from setting stretch goals at least five times.

I need help. Feel free to let me know ways to unleash personal greatness without making it about achievement. I will share with you all I learn from this journey. Perhaps it is time for me to stop trying so hard and let the boat pull me out of the water.


Anonymous said...


Greatness Project said...

Had to translate the above. It says "Life is a delicious feast, some people would rather starve" very appropriate.