The Equation of Greatness

“It takes two to make a very great career: The man who is great, and the man– almost rarer– who is great enough to see greatness and say so.”

I highlighted this quote by Ayn Rand in The Fountainhead last week right before I finished. The 752 page novel is filled with thought-provoking lines and passages, some of which consume upwards of fifteen pages. But for some reason this one-liner, which presented itself in a relatively unimportant part of the story, caught my attention and has stuck with me since, quietly slipping its way into my thoughts every so often.

It will never be my intention to take BWGW and its readers to a “debbie downer” place, but I think it’s important to share the highs along with the lows-there are sure to be a multitude of situations on both ends of the spectrum throughout this journey. As ridiculous as it may sound, planning a long-term trip like this isn’t necessarily easy. These past couple of weeks, for example, have been frustrating in their stagnancy. Time has seemed to crawl by, and I feel like I need a jump-start to get things moving again. Maybe it’s the fact that my trip is right around the corner and, just like any other great event, the days and weeks leading up to it seem to selfishly break themselves down into ticking hours, minutes and seconds. It could also be that I’ve reached a kind of stalemate with planning, digressing into a stage of existence much like that which I experienced right out of college-applying for jobs (in this case, as Cellarhand for the 2012 vintage in New Zealand and Australia), anxiously checking my email every few hours, and not receiving any positive response. I suppose the realization that the wine industry is as difficult to enter as any other shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it has. Any time I begin to get frustrated, Ayn Rand’s words quietly repeat themselves in my mind, serving as a silent reminder that the initial struggle may be great, but the journey will be greater.

We all experience these roadblocks-to varying degrees-throughout our lives. No matter what you’re doing or what stage of your life you’re at, there comes a point where you will be forced to stop and take a look at your existence, your purpose, and your direction. Sometimes you may find that you’ve taken a wrong turn. Are you humble enough to admit it to yourself and turn around, slowly backpedaling through the moments that led you astray? Are you willing to make yourself vulnerable as you search for the road you should have taken? Do you have the courage to go down a path which hasn’t been used for days, years, maybe even a lifetime?

Even more difficult than going back may be getting started. You can find yourself blindly stumbling along, wishing that someone, anyone, would stop and give you some sort of direction; knowing all along that it can only come from inside yourself. It takes a lot of strength to decide which road to take when you have no idea where any of them will end up. But be careful asking for too many opinions. I think this only adds to the noise of internal conflict; you know what you really want and who you really are.

I guess what I’m trying to say, to myself and to you all, is that if you wait around for someone to tell you how awesome you are, odds are you’ll be there for a while. Try going backwards, forwards, sideways- and stick with whichever way allows you to become the embodiment of the greatness that you already have inside you. Eventually it will become a question not of who will let you succeed, but of who will be able to stop you.

2 responses to “The Equation of Greatness

  1. Yes, the times I have gone on to excel in a job is when someone (bless them!) recognized what the diamond inside could be. It seems to be a platitude to say the right thing will come along in time…how that time drags….but it does seem to be true. . Keep working your pathway and I believe the right people will fall into step with you, either holding your hand beside you or somehow being there.

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