Who do you want to be?
‘I wanna be great!’
‘I am chasing greatness!’
Being a schmoozer, if I heard this, I would call it out from a mile. Indeed, it does sound fluffy, in the air, that this guy has his head in the clouds and that he has no clue of what he really wants. Though, what instigated this response was personally perplexing and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. So in 2016, I called myself out, and began exploring this reflex ‘ I wanna be great! I am chasing greatness’ response.
The goal of this piece is to take you through how I inquired into some of life’s big questions at an individual level, delved into the what & the why of ‘Greatness’ and found a way that one could possibly journey towards it by creating an executable ‘Designer’
I was skeptic about posting this, for a myriad of reasons. However, I do define my success, not just by my success, but also by the successes of my closest people. So, if this could possibly even slightly help you towards your successes, what’s the point of keeping this to just myself?
What is Greatness?
Some noteworthy descriptions of greatness are along the lines of:
‘True greatness is the ability to achieve what you choose to achieve in the area you choose to achieve it; and to achieve it with excellence and a level of mastery’
‘To be great is to live your own life on your own terms; and to live it big!’
For the purpose of this piece, I have defined ‘Greatness’ as follows:
Greatness is a by product of successfully executing a bold and normally considered impossible vision.
At the crux of it all, I found that nobody can really define what ‘greatness’ truly is, where it starts and ends, and nobody knows exactly how to reach it. So beautifully, for you, ‘greatness’ can be whatever you want it to be and you, can define how and when you reach it. It is wise to remind oneself of the relativity of ‘greatness’ and be mindful that it originates from within us.
Why do you want to be Great?
I uncovered that I had 2 driving reasons to strive for this greatness:
- The fact that we are so insignificant and that the ‘why’ of the ‘why’ of everything could fall on deaf ears, pushed me towards the pursuit of trying to be become someone who was ‘significant’ in my own eyes. This is not to be confused with external validation being ‘significance’.
- Greatness is something, in the endless pursuit of which, one can keep the fire in one’s soul alive
THE DESIGNER — How do we journey towards greatness?
In pursuit of this greatness, in terms of working towards it day to day, I found certain limitations/problems, like:
- Frequently being overwhelmed and feeling so lost
- Wanting to do the normal things, which are so important too. I found that the ultra productive complete distraction elimination ways out there were simply unrealistic. Although I really do want to try and be great, sometimes I want to be able to do the normal things too. Go to the movies. Watch soaps at dinner. Be lazy on weekends. Don’t do anything. Scroll aimlessly through social media/news. Be bored. We need to have these things but in limited supply. Such that indulging in them in bursts becomes such utter joy. Even Einstein & Leonardo did the normal things!
So to do these things for people who wanna chase their version ‘greatness’, for their own reasons, you have to do certain things like this ‘Designer’ to be able to.
The Designer begun with me forming a VISION of a desirable me tomorrow.
It is vital you understand that I am that kind of person who would say something crazy and then actually do it/try and try to become it. So being aware of this and believing in myself, I set out trying to craft a VISION over a year. I understood that this VISION would definitely be multi-dimensional. This is because I was interested in everything from technology to finance to data science to dance to movement to fitness to art to design to entrepreneurship. So each of these dimensions formed a NARRATIVE.
NARRATIVES are more specific, coalescing and treading towards this VISION. I use these narratives as a base so that I am always in some way moving towards the vision by doing the right things that will help me become more of my narratives. Each NARRATIVE had a REFLECTION to understand the root reasons of ‘Why?’ and ‘Why Not?’. Each REFLECTION helped in analysing and sense-checking the NARRATIVE and how it fitted into the VISION.
REFLECTIONS are essential for rational thinking and informed decision making. This is post the ambiguous exploratory treading and drifting stages
Each NARRATIVE was shaped by a set of PRIORITIES that gave it direction. Each PRIORITY had MILESTONES to ensure that I was progressing in that direction.
PRIORITIES make your NARRATIVE more specific and tangible
Each MILESTONE had a STATUS, that I would update every second weekend.
MILESTONES make your priorities realistic
If the STATUS was red/amber, the following Ray Dalio method was used in a REFLECTION:
- Identify the Problem
- Do not tolerate the Problem
- Diagnose the root causes of the Problem
- Design a Plan around the Problem
- Push Forward (JFDI)
We have innumerable things that we can do nowadays, innumerable things that we can commit to, innumerable things that we can invest our time in.
At the end of the day, what we actually end up doing with our time, is what actually incrementally adds up and influences who we become tomorrow.
Simply, what we do daily, what we think daily, what we read daily, what we see daily, and who we meet is actually us. ‘Who you are’ — isn’t that abstract after all!
However, after creating this designer, I found that there was a BIG GAP between it and actual daily execution. So I fixed it, trying to answer the question:
How do you practically bring this to life?
Sit down. Think about you.Think about How you want to feel, How you want to look, What you want do not like, What you do like, What you envy. And then, then go jot it down. Jot it down so that you can give yourself a chance to be reminded of what you truly desire and what your preferences are.
Then follow the steps below for executing the Designer:
STEP 1: Monthly
Google Sheets or Excel:
Create the following Columns:
- PRE-REFLECTION → WHY YES?
- PRE-REFLECTION → WHY NOT?
- PRE-REFLECTION → EVALUATION (Based on the summary of the why yes & why not to understand where you truly are at)
- POST-REFLECTION (Ray Dalio Method for amber & red status’)
- VICTORIES (It’s good to note when you do well and win!)
STEP 2: DAILY
Evernote → If you don’t have evernote, get it!
Every NARRATIVE is a Notebook Stack, every PRIORITY is a Notebook, every MILESTONE is a note that would hold the post-reflection too.
STEP 3: DAILY
Todoist → This can also be your task management app.
Every MILESTONE is a project, under which you add tasks which feed into the STATUS
Planning fallacy — We always underestimate the amount of time and effort that a certain pursuit requires to do it justice. The fix for this is to Strip your goals in half
Strategic incompetence — Purposely just putting in the minimum needed effort on certain fronts that do not impact your long run vision
Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Principles
- I feel my inexperience here is an asset and I am embracing it
- I could be really wrong and all this could appear real stupid/naive.
- Isn’t the beautiful thing about learning being that nobody can take it away from you?
- So if you have any thoughts — do share!