When Greatness Is Spontaneous2017-09-26T15:50:01+00:00

When Greatness Is Spontaneous

It’s been a heck of a month so far. We as a nation are still assessing the damage from two major hurricanes. It’s been a horrible time.

This will date me, but I was born nine months after Hurricane Agnes hit my hometown area, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. There was a lot of destruction, but there also was a baby boomlet. Hey, it was the 70s, and the TV was out for a while. So I have this strange connection to hurricane season. I get to thinking, what good can come of this? Not to downplay the loss and destruction, but to move ahead.

One good thing that we witnessed, aside from the awesome shot of a dog carrying his own food, was that people stepped up. They were heroic in new ways, using technology to rescue people. I got emotional watching people from all walks of life putting themselves on the line. Those people should be damn proud of how they stepped up.

CNN ran a story last month about how mariners of all kinds evacuated nearly half a million people from Manhattan in less than nine hours on 9/11. As they saw the towers go, they steered into the fray.

“I just turned my boat around,” said ferry captain Rick Thornton in the article. Man.

It takes courage, but it also takes a certain agility of thinking. That’s a pretty amazing combination in a person. I’m doing my job, but wait, I need to hold everything and turn the boat around.

I think a lot of the angst we have about our careers stems from a desire to leave our mark on this world. Sometimes we feel pressure to build a linear career that culminates in working at the top of our profession, and if we get off track, we won’t make a difference.

But these stories teach us that climbing a ladder to success may not matter in the final calculus of our lives, if you believe in that sort of thing. It may be a shining moment. Or several. Maybe it will have nothing to do with what we did for a living after all. Maybe it will have more to do with our courage and our agility than our degrees or our work experience.

So then, success in our lives can be redefined, and we can prepare ourselves for a different kind of greatness. What if we flexed our courage muscles more often? Is there something you’re nervous about doing? What if you go ahead and do it anyway, push through the fear.

Are you often worrying about the future, or thinking about the past? What if you practiced more mindfulness, so you can see what’s around you and respond in a way that will make your future self proud? These, too, are worthy career goals, and they make the world a better place.