40+FAB Blog

Seeking fame or greatness?

There is a subtle error in our aspirations to be like some great person. You would have heard comments in the press comparing someone with rising potential to someone widely respected by all. “Could he be the next Winston Churchill?” they would ask. If you look closer to home and what your parents told you or what you told yourself, you would find aspirations to be maybe like Mother Theresa, or Marcus Garvey, or Michael Jackson, or whoever you consider to be your hero.

The problem with that thinking is that each human being is unique and there can only ever be one version of a person, everything else is an attempted copy. We must question our aspirations when we look to be the next great one.

Are we really seeking greatness or fame? Fame is what we do for ourselves, acquiring attention and popularity to be well known or liked – the social media influencer generation. Greatness is born out of what we do for others, it is our donation and contribution to our world.

You will find a lot of famous people who have no notable contribution to life and you could easily tell the person they have copied. You will however find, not too far from a great person, their contribution to the world.

In the words of Martin Luther King Junior, “Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”

We can and should by all means be inspired by the great, emulating their noblest character and values that made them who they were, but the pursuit to be them is actually a pursuit of fame and not of greatness as it robs us of our ability to give our own unique contribution to our world.