The 4 Stages of Greatness
When I ask people if they want to be great or do great things everyone says, “Yes.” I’ve never had anyone say I want to be mediocre. I’m convinced that inside each one of us is a desire for greatness because we were never meant to be average. God planted this desire in our soul. It’s why we are always striving to improve. Inventors and engineers are always trying to make better phones, cars, machines, planes and products. A director makes a movie and wants to make an even better movie. A sales person has a great year and they want to top it. An athlete wants to get stronger and faster. A musician has a hit song and then they want to create another hit. It’s part of our path as human beings to innovate, evolve, grow, improve and push the boundaries of what’s possible. I’ve discovered there are 4 stages that everyone who pursues greatness will go through on their journey.
1. The Preparation Stage - This is where you prepare to be great—where your actions meet your desire - where you show up each day and do the work that greatness requires. While speaking to a MLB baseball team I asked them, “Do you believe you can work harder than you already are?” Everyone raised their hand. “So why aren’t you,” I asked? We discussed it and decided to work harder you have to care more. You have to care to prepare and embrace the process that leads to improvement and growth. See yourself as an artist dedicated to your craft and over time you will create a masterpiece.
2. The Planting Stage - This is where you plant yourself where you are and allow yourself and your gifts to be used for a greater purpose beyond yourself. This is where you decided to serve WE instead of ME. Just as the seed must surrender to the ground you must surrender your ego and put your team and others first. You have to have an ego to want to be great but you must give up your ego and serve others in order to be truly great. Years ago I was unhappy and miserable with my life. I was trying to serve me and it wasn’t doing me any good. Finally I broke down and made my life about others. I started this newsletter in 2002 with no plan. I just shared messages to hopefully inspire and in the process I’ve grown others and myself.
3. The Growth Stage - When you plant yourself and allow yourself to be used for a greater purpose you grow into the leader you are meant to be. Part of this process is the growth stage where you will experience triumphs and success to let you know you are on the right path. However, you will also experience pruning during this stage. When you are being pruned it looks like you have been destroyed but you haven’t. Like a bush that’s been pruned, the pruning is meant to help you grow more fully. When I spoke to the West Point football team a few years ago they had just lost a tough game during another challenging season and things looked bleak. I told them they were just being pruned and a harvest was coming. Your perspective during the growth stage is so important. So many give up during this stage because they think when they have been pruned they’re finished. They think it’s the end so they never reach the final stage. Don’t stop. Keep going and you’ll keep growing.
4. The Harvest Stage - This is where you reap the benefits of all your hard work, planting and growing. It’s where you produce fruit in your life and fruit in others and leave a legacy. It’s when it all becomes clear. The reason why we go through these 4 stages and strive for greatness is because through the process we become someone who can bring out the greatness in others. We show others what greatness looks like and inspire others to aspire to greatness themselves. I was at the Army Navy game this past year, when after 14 years of defeats, Army finally beat Navy. I congratulated Coach Jeff Monken and he said, “We experienced a harvest today.” You may not have experienced a harvest yet but don’t let that stop you from preparing and planting the seed. Go through the process. Don’t give up when you are being pruned. It may take a while but a harvest is coming. I don’t know when but I know its coming!