Good Afternoon, Friends!
Mrs. Q walked the classroom, passing out graded research papers. I anxiously waited for mine, “Waiting for the Wave: Tsunami.” It was the most significant thing I have ever developed and written.
In high school, I struggled with writing assignments. But this one was different – I was able to select my topic, and I was fascinated with earth science, especially tsunamis. I spent hundreds of hours researching the subject. I even interviewed a geology professor at the University of Maine. The result was a fifty-page, typed, double space research paper with footnotes and a bibliography.
It was my high school opus!
As Mrs. Q approached me, her energy changed. She eyed me with such disdain; it sent shivers down my spine. She dropped the paper on my desk with a big fat zero on the page. My face turned red with shame and anger. As I opened my opus, there were no red marks—just the single big fat zero.
Almost in tears, I waited for the bell to ring. I went to her and asked what the zero meant? She told me, “You didn’t write this. You are not good enough to write something like this. You must have plagiarized it or had someone else write it.” I tried to defend my position, but she repeated that I could not write a quality paper. She went on to list all the reasons I would never be able to write a research paper like this one.
Her words still haunt me! I was not good enough. Even today, on the cusp of having my first book published, I sometimes feel that I am not good enough. However, her words were fuel for me. They sent me on a forty-year journey to prove her wrong. I was going to strive for greatness, no matter the cost or the risk.
But this desire for greatness led me to ask myself big questions. Like: Can I be great? What does it take for me to be great? What does the idea of greatness mean? Does it mean being the best at something or that we are better than everyone else?
We use terms like the greatest of all time (GOAT), the best player on the team, or the smartest person in the room. I don’t care for this binary definition of greatness. Also, I was not fond of the idea of competing against someone for the title of the greatest. Greatness seemed to be a personal quest focused on competing against an earlier version of myself.
For me, greatness was the personal pursuit to be better, and it is a continuous journey were the goalposts are continually moving forward. Greatness is not a destination but rather a quality or state of being that we achieve. So, what is greatness, and who defines it? And more importantly, how do you achieve greatness?
These are all great questions, but in reality, you are the only person that determines and allows yourself to become great. Therefore, greatness is a mindset or rather a choice. You can choose to strive for greatness and undertake a continuous journey from where you are now to where you can go.
When you choose to chase greatness, you decide to be better. You will see your greatness through your thoughts, work, and actions. When you pursue excellence, you determine how you impact the lives of others. Your greatness is not defined by what you achieve but by what those around you obtain.
I might never be a Jim Collins, Earnst Hemmingway, or Stephen King, but I can be the best – no, the greatest – Tim Hebert. I have spent thousands of hours writing essays, articles, blogs, posts, poetry, fiction, and a non-fiction book.
I overcame Mrs. Q’s evaluation and her big fat, red zero. Yes, I live with dyslexia; yet I am a writer. I strive for greatness and find ways to become better with each sentence and line of prose.
I have come a long way from that English class. My book, The Intentional Leader, is available for pre-order. On November 9th, my book will ship, and maybe Mrs. Q’s words will fade into a distant memory. But until then, my mantra is “Good is the enemy of great.”
[VIDEO] Running in the Rain
In 2015, I decided to achieve a life goal – to climb Kilimanjaro. The goal would challenge me physically, mentally, emotionally, and, most important, spiritually. With a failure of over 50%, I knew that I needed to prepare for the worse possible conditions. I designed my training regime to run five to eight miles every day from January 1st to October 3rd. I ran through the rain, New England blizzards, and the Arizona blistering desert heat. Intentional Leaders push to do what others will not. They rise above their circumstances and seek greatness. Enjoy this almost five-minute video, and hopefully, you will find some inspiration!
Bonus Material: Here is a link to my 2015 blog, “‘Pole, Pole!’: A Lesson Learned at the Summit of Kilimanjaro“.
Humility and Resolve
Intentional Leaders focus not on perfection but on continuous progress. Every thought, action, or decision leads to getting a little better or learning essential lessons to your journey to greatness. Check out this Harvard Business Review article by Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.
A crucible is a ceramic or metal container where metals or other substances are heated or melted at a very high temperature. The heated material can be changed into something new and even made stronger. Also, a crucible is a situation of severe trial that forces people to change or make difficult decisions. Either definition defines the daily transformation process of Intentional Leaders.
“Challenge Is the Crucible of Greatness” – Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge
The Intentional Leader Update
It’s official on November 9th, The Intentional Leader will be available in the United States market. My publisher is sending me twenty complimentary copies. I can’t wait to open the box and experience the rush of seeing 40 years of work come to fruition.
Book Launch Celebration
Erica and I have been busy planning a book launch celebration. Our current plans are to find a wicked cool Rhode Island-based venue that challenges the norms for this kind of event. We are looking at a couple of places next week, and we are open to any suggestions from our friends.
We are planning a book launch celebration on December 9th from 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Our goal is to create a unique and entertaining event to share our excitement with our friends and families. We look forward to seeing you there! More details to follow.