One of the things I love about writing stream of consciousness is that I have a lot of time to hear things, see things, experience things and get into informal conversations about a number of issues. And then, only after all of these things are considered, can I put fingers to keys and type these diatribes out in a matter of minutes. They usually don't take very long.
Could I put more time and thought into them? Sure. But that's not where I am right now. It's funny, I've been thinking a lot about how I spend my time, and how others perceive I spend my time, and in multiple conversations I've had people - typically women or people older than me - give me advice. They see my talent, my drive, and they want to help. They want to help me refine myself. But I can only refine myself for myself. Your help is just that, help. It's extremely appreciated, but cannot do for me what time, experience and internal dialogue can do for me.
The people in my life, especially my family, my good friends, my business partners, my mentors and personal board of advisers, are the most valuable external sources I have. Add them all up, and I'm backed by a lot of experience and wisdom. But experience is what will help me gain wisdom.
Here's one thing I've been wanting to share. This is the one nugget of wisdom I carry with me every day.
I don't need evidence to know I can be great. I prove it to myself everyday, even when what I'm doing is just good. The sheer volume of how many "goods" I've piled up to this point is a testament to my ability to cross-train for greatness long term.
Truth be told, I don’t want to be great at any one thing this early in my life.
Being great can be very pigeonholing. I want to tread carefully so that I have multiple paths to greatness rather than just one.
Think about it: If you do that thing in a great way and you become that guy. You’ve done a good job at being great so you can no longer settle for good elsewhere.
Actors, ballplayers, comedians, models, mothers, rockstars...they're all victims of single-track greatness.
Look at Andre 3000 and the perception of his rap skills versus his knack for style. He’s great at rap, he’s pretty good at fashion. Kanye West has the same story.
Look at Michael Jordan. Great at basketball so never allowed to be good at baseball.
Look at Barack Obama. Great at campaigning, so he’s not being allowed to be considered great at leading despite his dozens of accomplishments while in office.
Look at Bill Gates. First he was great at tech, then he had to be broken down. Microsoft had to be sued and the Goliath partially slayed in order for its leader to be re-introduced as a great man elsewhere. Today, we have the Gates Foundation.
Another Bill, Clinton, experienced a self-inflicted move from great to good – during the Lewinsky scandal and Al Gore’s 2000 loss – in order to re-invent himself as a great ex-president.
It’s hard to be both great and good. No one ever gives you that option.
You either have to be John Lennon or Marvin Gaye alive or you have to be them dead.
You either have to be LBJ respected and revered in 1960 or LBJ not running in 1968.
You either have to be JFK or Richard Nixon. America leaves its leaders no grey area.
That’s why, I’d rather not waste my time with greatness at a single thing just yet.
I’d rather master the art of all-around goodness.
From here, I can pivot and position myself in whatever direction I so choose. A writer. A philanthropist. An activist. An entrepreneur. A fashion guru. A social media savant.
Whatever it is right now, I’m A-OK with being slightly better than OK at every single thing I do. Because this country has plenty of people trying to be our generation’s George Washington – be it in politics, tech, sports, etc. the title holders and leaders - but not nearly enough people emulating Ben Franklin – the thinkers, brainstormers, conceptualizers, tinkerers and doers.
Is this an excuse not to pursue greatness in my life? No, not at all. I know I can be better at a lot of things.
It’s just a request for patience. I have a plan for great, trust me, but it’s going to take me many more years and much more practice at good to get me there.