Reaching for Greatness
"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve…
You only need a heart full of grace.
A soul generated by love."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Everybody has had – at least at some time in their lives – dreams of “greatness”. In our childhoods, those dreams often involve castles and magic, or pirate ships and adventure, or – for the ambitious imagination – space ships and the conquering of planets. Adolescent dreamscapes might involve roaring stadiums, movie sets in exotic locales, hand on the wheel of a billion-dollar company, or ten million “retweets” – some other form of world domination. Whatever becomes of those ambitions as we go through life, whatever path we take in our pursuit of happiness, the concept of “greatness” often remains tied to the idea of power, fame and adulation.
Think for a moment about a great kindness somebody once did for you—a moment of salvation or months of support, something that made a positive impact on the trajectory of your life. I imagine that whatever that kindness was, you remember it very vividly, even if it happened decades ago. Now, ask yourself who won the World Series that year, or who had the most-played song at the dance clubs, or what the top-grossing movie was. Chances are your recollection of those trivia answers are vague at best. The biggest impacts in our lives aren’t made by sports stars or Fortune 500 CEO’s, but rather the people whose acts of service caused far less commotion.
Not saying, of course, that someone who achieves power, fame and material award can’t also put themselves at service to the people around them and the world at large. So many do. But the important thing to remember is that unlike the opportunity to make a magazine cover or a top-floor office, opportunities to serve are everywhere. A “heart full of grace”, to use the Reverend’s words, can find those chances every single day. Greatness doesn't have to be a dream. But we don't achieve it when we reach for the stars, rather when we reach out to each other.