The Origin of Greatness

If you’re anything like me, then you probably want to be great at what you do, regardless of whatever it is that you do. If you’re a photographer, you want to be a great photographer. If you’re a carpenter, you want to be a great carpenter. If you’re a blogger, you want to be a great blogger. We look up to the greats who have come before us and the greats who are with us now, and we can feel inspired.

But of course, as you’ve surely heard so many times before, by the time you see someone achieve greatness, they’ve already invested so much of their time and energy into their endeavor. We don’t see the countless failures and innumerable false steps along the way. How many times did they get rejected from how many possible investors before one of them finally gave them a chance? How many iterations of the mobile app did they go through before they landed upon a winning formula?

We look at these superstars and we admire all the incredible achievements that they’ve earned along the way. We see all their victories, we gaze upon their unfathomable fame and fortune, and we quickly come to the conclusion that this kind of success is so far beyond where we stand today. It just feels so out of reach, like scoring the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl or landing on Mars. Why even bother?

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

That quote comes from the late American uathor and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. He made a career of speaking about the business of sales, hoping to raise the image of salespeople in the country. Over the course of his career, he also authored 30 books. All said, he accomplished a lot in his 86 years of life and his quotes continue to be circulated around the Internet to this day, like in today’s blog post.

But he wasn’t always great. See You At The Top, his first book, was rejected nearly 40 times before it was finally published in 1975. And today, nearly half a century later, it’s still in print and is still widely read. That’s great. But it wasn’t always great. It only got there and he only got there, because he decided to start. And then he decided to persevere.

So many of us get caught up in all sorts of excuses and justifications for why we are unable to pursue our passions and achieve our dreams. We convince ourselves that such lofty goals are out of reach and we’ve got to pull our heads out of the clouds. We tell ourselves that the conditions aren’t quite perfect, but of course they will never be perfect. There’s always going to be something (or someone) holding you back.

Simply getting started with something obviously will not guarantee its success. When I started my first blog back in 2006 (if you don’t count my other websites and email newsletters, which date back to 1999, as “blogs”), I made a number of fellow blogger friends. We were all learning about this whole thing together and, well, the overwhelming majority of them are no longer blogging. To be honest, I have no idea what they’re doing. But I’m still here. They got started, but they didn’t stick with it. They didn’t follow through.

At the same time, we have to realize that NOT getting started WILL guarantee a lack of success. A lack of greatness. If you never get started, you leave yourself with absolutely zero chance at “making it,” whatever that means to you. By far the single greatest prerequisite to anything you want to accomplish is getting started. So whether that’s affiliate marketing, web development, freelance writing, blogging, YouTubing or anything else, just get started. And keep moving forward.

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