Monday, November 9, 2009

On being 'great'

Just a quick weekend recap, got a ton of stuff done around the house, and had a nice date night with the wife (karaoke, who would of thought that). I picked up a very cool jacket at a discount store. I had seen a version of it a month or two ago but I held off picking it up. I'll work to get a picture up here over the next day or so. It's a faux leather jacket, black, simple front with a couple lines and color distortions on the seems, that gives it a very slimming and clean look, and has sort of a button collar, which sort of looks like a belt but has a nice effect. Very cool and looks good on me, and it only cost $25. Which is all the better since I'm a cheap ass when it comes to clothes.

Back to what I was going to write about. So much of my writing lately has been nice from a daily recap or random thoughts perspective, but it hasn't had much substance to it. Which means it's about time, I put something deeper down.

I may have mentioned this before in my writings (note, thinking further I have likely touched on this before, so consider it an update). When I was between the ages of 18-25, I had this constant inner voice that repeated constantly that I was going to be 'great' or do 'great' things. Nothing more specific then those, just that word repeating over and over. As I struggled with career choices and life choices it caused a huge amount of internal strife, especially considering that there were no job postings that seemed to have a direct line to being great.

It's funny as much as I share with people in my inner circle, I think I had only mentioned it to my friend Will. Sometime around 25, I remember sitting around talking to my Mother about something and I wound up telling her, that I had these crazy thoughts inside my head that I couldn't shake. Without a blink she responded, "Oh yes, that's what I used to tell you multiple times a day when you were a baby and growing up".

Me: "So Mom, let me understand this, I've been up and down psychology, mysticism, self analysis, and a variety of things trying to figure out where this inner voice comes from, and your telling me it's simply from a statement you used to repeat to me over and over?"

Mom: "Yes"

Me: "Couldn't you have been a little more specific, you know a doctor, a lawyer, the president, or something tangible?"

Mom: "No, I just thought you were great, knew you were going to do great things and I didn't want you to ever forget it."

Me: "Fair enough, (not much you can say in response to that)"

At least at that point, I had a reason for my constant thought, and in truth it's helped quell that voice or at least allow me to incorporate it correctly.

The funny thing about the word 'great' is fairly complicated, does it mean better then someone else, the best at something, kind hearted, a leader, etc. describes it in the following way. I've removed some that don't apply (numbers retained for reference purposes) and added a comment or two in bold.

1.unusually or comparatively large in size or dimensions: Ah a reason for my size in high school.
3. unusual or considerable in degree, power, intensity, etc.: hmm, should have focused on unusual
4. wonderful; first-rate; very good:
5. being such in an extreme or notable degree:
6. notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding:
7. important; highly significant or consequential:
8. distinguished; famous: 9. of noble or lofty character: 10. chief or principal:
11. of high rank, official position, or social standing: 13. of extraordinary powers; having unusual merit; very admirable: a great statesman. 14. skillful; expert (usually fol. by at or on): 18. a person who has achieved importance or distinction in a field: She is one of the theater's greats.

As you can see it's a pretty fair set of criteria to try and accomplish. What's even worse is someone striving to be 'great' is going to look at that list and decide they need to do them all. (I'm just guessing for someone that decided too) In actuality I'm just stating to you how I view the list, oh to be great I need to do all of these.

I find this strive to be great has affected many of my perceptions, actions, and planning in everything I do. The nice thing is as I've gotten older, I also have a bit more perspective on things. Being 'great' relies on a lot of variables and subjective criteria, that ultimately I set.

Take my singing in a band, I have no delusions or interest in making albums, winning American Idol, or being 'discovered'. I do want to perform at the best of my abilities with it, which means I have to understand what's involved with the hobby and then apply that knowledge to performing. While I don't want to be famous, that doesn't mean that I don't look for gauges to know whether or not I'm successful at doing something I've set out to do. There are a number of things I've already started thinking about that I'll use as indicators of how 'great' I am. Whether it's playing at a particular bar, the price that we charge per gig, or being in the running in a Free Times article for best cover band in the area. These are the types of measurements I'll use to measure myself.

I've also learned that I don't have to meet all of the criteria, in order to consider myself great at something or great overall. Because even when I may not obtain 'greatness' in my pursuit of something, often times that pursuit is something I'm measuring myself with in the grand scheme of things and just attempting it maybe classified as great from that criteria. Damn, I hope that made sense.

Trying to bring this back around and to a conclusion, I think I can finally put to rest, the whole anxiety over whether or not I'm going to be great. Ultimately I set the parameters of it, so therefore, I think I'll assume I am and just move on, secure in the knowledge that how I approach situations is driven by this thought regardless of what I do going forward. And by the way, thanks Mom.


wendy said...

Wouldn't change a think with this post... don't delete it.

Michael said...

Thanks, as long as I don't have to read it though. I'm telling you it's funny how much I despise reading myself and hearing myself. It's not that I think there's anything wrong with either, just makes me feel weird to do so.