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What does it mean to be “great?”

We've been giving this a lot of thought lately: What does it mean to be great?

We say things like:

  • Have a great day!
  • We had a great time.
  • She is a great woman.
  • We call that "The Great Depression."
  • He has great fear of failure.

So, the word is used for a great many things!

Would you join in and think about this with us? Here's some starting questions:

  • What does it mean to be great?
  • What does it take to be great?
  • How would you know if you are great?
  • Is it great at something, or being a great person?
  • Who decides?
  • Can you decide for yourself, or does someone else have to say that you are great?
  • What constitutes "a great day?"

A PARTING IDEA FOR TODAY: Would this define greatness for you if you lived by this quote from Mother Teresa, or would it take more?

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier."

I am really looking forward to what you have to contribute about this idea. I hope you'll join me in this.


Spread the word. Share this post!


  1. kera - Reply

    Such a good question… poignant for me at this moment, as a “great” friend just passed away. What made him “great” was his giving, open, loving, positive self. But he was “great” in other ways – he was a large man, physically, but he also took up a lot of space in a room as his personality was “great” – loud, funny, enveloping & encompassing but never (well, rarely) arrogant or condescending, always kind. We just had a “great” celebration of him where many many friends, family & acquaintences came & shared tears, laughter & memories.. the love in the room was palpable.

    i think “great” is the word that comes to mind when something is substantially bigger than an individual person or event. More often it’s positive and expansive, tho sometimes it’s precisely the opposite.

    i love that mother teresa quote… imagine the shift in consciousness that would occur if that was everyone’s mantra.

    much to think about … thank you.

  2. Charlene SanJenko - Reply

    Oh, so many comments on this one. “Greatness” is a huge, HUGE topic for me. A couple Rumi & Mandela quotes come to mind. We are all born with GREATNESS. To me it’s more about returning to greatness. Working thru all of the crap that we’ve encountered in our lives in various ways that have left us feeling anything less than great. Once we return to this original most natural state we can focus on others and realize it’s not all about ‘us’… ‘what’s in it for us’, etc. We get past all that and realize this is where the real magic happens!

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      DrShaler - Reply

      Yes, you are so right. It is so important to take the time to figure out who you are right now. We’ve all inherited, adopted and adapted so many things as we have grown up–or, at least, older. If we take the time to sift and sort, to know our own values, vision, beliefs and purpose and keep only what is in alignment with those, we will become a grown up, a true grown-up, one who knows s/he is here to make their unique contribution to the world in their own way. That allows us all to release our “approval” scripts. In an earlier post, I talked about ‘what other people think of us is none of our business.” That’s a big, BIG thing to really get!!!

      Then, as you say, we are free to be us, in the moment, making that unique contribution to the life of the world that only we can make.

      Thanks for your comments. I’ll look forward to more.

      Sow Peace…in every moment.

  3. Kath - Reply

    I know one thing that greatness does not equal. And that’s grandiosity. I think a lot of people believe that to be great they have to be grandiose. Personally I believe everyday people achieve greatness each and every day.

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      DrShaler - Reply

      Amen! I agree with you. Greatness, to my way of thinking, is an inside job that shines in the things we do and say in daily life and relationships. I think it shows up when we consciously align our values, vision, beliefs and purpose, and demonstrate it by our words and actions. Thanks for adding your voice here.

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