You see, Greatness comes only to those who have spent a lifetime preparing for it.
The qualities of a great man are integrity, vision, courage, understanding, the skill of articulation and the depth of Character. Mostly Character. Character motivates. In its noblest embodiments, it exemplifies human nature in its highest forms, for it exhibits man at his best.
Men of genuine excellence in every station of life—men of industry, of integrity, of high principle, of sterling honesty of purpose—command the spontaneous homage of mankind. It is natural to believe in such men, to have confidence in them, and to imitate them. All that is good in the world is upheld by them, and without their presence in it the world would not be worth living in.
Character mostly secures respect. Character is the product of heart-power and in the long run it is the heart that rules in life. Men of Character are held up by society in relation to their conscience.
To that list of qualities of greatness, I would add decisiveness. That is, the ability to take command, decide and act. There arrives a moment when soft speaking should be abandoned and a fight to the end undertaken. Any man who hopes to exercise leadership must be ready to meet the requirements face to face when it happens; unless he is ready to fight when necessary, people will begin to ignore him.
The qualities of goodness in a man, I believe include a genuine sympathy for the human condition, that is, and awareness of human weakness and shortcomings and a willingness to be forgiving of them, a sense of responsibility toward others, a genuine modesty combines with a justified self-confidence, a sense of humor, and most of all, a love of life and of people.
Every man can strive to develop the qualities of a good and great man; he needn’t wait for an emergency to spur him into action. For some men, their lives will intersect with a crisis that calls upon the talents and skills they have spent years cultivating, presenting them with an opportunity to serve and lead and become a Great man. No man knows if and when such a chance will arrive.
Whether the chance for a man to lead in a dramatic way ever comes or not, doesn’t matter. The man who spends a life-time cultivating the traits of goodness and greatness enjoys the confidence of being ready for whatever comes and the competence to handle the small emergencies in his day-to-day life. He will be revered for generations by family and loved ones, and if fate requires him to exercise the traits of greatness, will be remembered by history books as well. Either way, he will be able to look back at the end of his life with a satisfaction of knowing it was well-lived.
Personally, I always try to give my best. Whatever the day calls for, I try to give it my best. If I am working for someone, I want them to miss me when I am gone. You may not get the promotion, or even the job, but the true satisfaction is in knowing you did the best you could. If the road traveled seems to be leading to a dead end, if the less than exciting duties seem pointless, put it aside and focus on the work at hand, focus on helping others, and make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in on any given day. It is this attitude, this daily attitude, that prepares you for Greatness.
Thus of all the lessons I have gleaned from life, this has been the most memorable: to work and train hard every day and every year, even when it seems your efforts are fruitless, because you never know when you will be called upon to lead others through a crisis, and when your goodness will get the opportunity to become Greatness.