Reach For Greatness

Most of us like to believe that we have value. We demand others treat us as though we do, and for good reason. We’re free men and women. We have a right to expect to be treated as if we matter.

But then we go through life, eventually dying, and what do we leave behind?

Oh, we have our families who will miss us, but what about beyond just that?

I’m not going to lie. One of my greatest fears is that I’ll be forgotten. I’m terrified that the moment I’m gone from this world, I’ll start to fade from people’s memory and disappear entirely from the world within a generation or two.

The truth is, though, most of us will.

Our spouses and children will likely remember us, and if their children are old enough, they’ll remember us too. But at some point, they too will pass from the world as well. With them will be all memory of us.

And yeah, that’s depressing as hell to me.

The real question is, what the hell are we doing to change it?

For me, I’m trying a few things. One is that I put forth my efforts in my day job to become someone of substance. I’m striving to master my profession to the best of my ability. If I do that, I suspect I’ll be remembered long after I’m gone. The possibility exists that I’ll be remembered for decades after.

But that’s not particularly likely. After all, only the very top will reach that level and I’m not there. Not yet, anyway.

I’ll admit, this fear is probably a mixed blessing. It drives me, that’s for sure, but I’m not entirely sure it’s healthy. I have a psychiatrist buddy whose brain I need to pick on this matter, but I suspect he’ll say it’s fine. It’s not interfering with my enjoyment of life, after all, just pushing me to do better.

But the thing is, I want my family to at least remember me. My thinking is that so long as I’m being remembered, even by people I never met, then I’m never truly gone from this world.

That’s my hangup, and I’ll admit it.

My question, though, is what are you doing to leave a mark on the world?

In truth, that’s something we all should be doing. Not because I think everyone should share my paranoia of being forgotten when not immediately within sight (it’s not that bad, but I suspect it looks that way), but because if we all started trying to make our mark on the world, what all would be accomplished?

Imagine the good we could do. Feeding the homeless, building houses for the poor, composing symphonies or creating incredible works of art, all because we found it as an imperative that we all made it our mission to make a difference, one that no one could ignore.

And here’s the thing. Don’t be satisfied with just doing something. Work to do more than that mere something. Work to become the best at it. Master everything you do. Aim beyond your reasonable reach.

If you’re guided by altruism, then such efforts will only yield more good, right? If you fight to literally end homelessness, for example, you might not succeed, but you might make so much more of a difference than if you just take out a few sandwiches once a week.

See what I’m saying?

If that’s your cause, then work tirelessly for your cause. Fight to eliminate whatever horrid thing you’re fighting to end.

But if you’re not that altruistic, that’s fine too. Still fight to leave a legacy that can be remembered. Do amazing things, do things to be celebrated and admired. Do things, create things, be someone others will admire.

Steve Jobs used to say something about making a dent in the universe. He aimed big and look where he ended up before the end. Is there any doubt that he’s still remembered?

Not all of us can be Steve Jobs, but we can make our own dents in the universe.

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