Where Does Your Greatness Lie?
For most people, the answer to this question generally focuses around a hobby or a talent. Some may answer that their greatness lies in playing piano or building computers or speaking or writing business books. For others, they may be great at maintaining a home, balancing busy schedules, designing a video game or skateboarding.
Wikipedia.org defines greatness as:
A concept of a state of superiority affecting a person, object. Greatness can also be referred to individuals who possess a natural ability to be better than all others. The concept carries the implication that the particular person or object, when compared to others of a similar type, has clear advantage over others.
How often though do we choose to commit to greatness in relationships? I am not talking about the simple desire to be in a great relationship or to be surrounded by great people. I am talking about a commitment to greatness in relationships in the same way you would commit to becoming superior at a craft or a skill.
In a traditional relationship format, we often commit to each other by way of marriage. We share vows and we commit to being together until death do us part. What tends to happen right afterward, in many cases, is that we forget that choosing to commit and saying “yes” to each other is simply one piece of the puzzle. Complacency can sink in and we can easily deflect our desire to be great elsewhere.
What if we made the conscious choice to become great at being in relationship with another human being?
What if we dedicated ourselves to the craft of relationships and worked to become really, really good at them? What if we approached the relationship like we would a skill set and used a portion of our time to research, study and improve our relationship abilities?
Most people don’t choose greatness for their relationship because they don’t think that they have to. It’s easy to feel like the verbal commitment made to each other is enough. That you’ll weather the storms simply because you, at one point in time, said, “I do.”
Most people “work” on their relationships when they have reached a state where it’s their only choice. Where their partner is saying, “Therapy, or else!” When the word “divorce” is hanging in the air like a five-day old helium balloon.
Why We Don’t Often Commit to Greatness in Our Relationships
I recently read an article on Forbes.com called “The Six Enemies of Greatness and Happiness” and when I did, I applied the points within the article directly to relationships. It was eye-opening.
The article begins with this cautionary bit of text:
These six factors can erode the grandest of plans and the noblest of intentions. They can turn visionaries into paper-pushers and wide-eyed dreamers into shivering, weeping balls of regret.
If we apply this directly to relationships, the notion is still profoundly true.
Here are my edits with the focus being solely on relationships:
The six enemies of greatness and happiness will eventually erode even the greatest relationships. It will turn romantics into cynics and vulnerable lovers into cold blocks of stone.
The article listed the six enemies as:
- Availability – We often settle for what’s available, and what’s available isn’t always great.
- Ignorance – If we don’t know how to make something great, we simply won’t.
- Committees – The lowest common denominator is never a high standard.
- Comfort – Why pursue greatness when you’ve already got 324 channels and a recliner?
- Momentum – If you’ve been doing what you’re doing for years and it’s not-so-great, you are in a rut.
- Passivity – There’s a difference between being agreeable and agreeing to everything. Trust the little internal voice that tells you, “this is a bad idea.”
How many of these characteristics have you seen creep into your own relationships?
Committing to being great at relationships means more than just choosing to make it a priority, however. It means making a conscious effort to become really, really skilled at them.
Acceptance, Awareness and Effort
I was having the conversation around greatness in relationships with my ex and he made a comment along the lines of “if my future girlfriend can’t accept me for who I am, then it’s not a good fit and therefore, putting forth extra effort on a continuous basis doesn’t necessarily seem like a good use of time.”
While it is true that acceptance has to happen, acceptance does not equal complacency. Acceptance is not about saying, “This is as good as it gets, let’s roll with this.” Acceptance, in the context of greatness, means saying, “I see you and now I want to become the best partner I can be for you.”
As we continued to dissect the conversation, he made the following comment, “Well, it sounds great but you’ll need to find someone that you want to be great for first, no?”
I’m dyslexic and math has always been a challenge for me. I would never commit to becoming great at math. I would never long to become a mathematician because I am aware enough about myself and my unique set of challenges to know that becoming great at math is probably not in my cards, regardless of how much time and effort I pour into it.
Awareness is a key word here.
You need to use your awareness, about yourself and others, to analyze whether or not the relationship is the right one. If you’re in a relationship with someone that doesn’t make you want to be the best version of yourself and bring everything you possibly can to the table, you just may be in the wrong partnership.
However, when you know that you are in the right relationship and you are inspired and motivated by that person to become a better person, you’ll know it and committing to become great at relationships, for yourself and ultimately for them as well, will be an easy choice with not a lot of effort involved to get to that decision.
I Want My Partner to Be Committed to Greatness, Too
One of the things that we do in relationships is we often keep a scorecard. We begrudge our partner when they aren’t showing up how we want them to show up and when that happens, we hold back parts of ourselves almost in an attempt to “get even” or punish them. This is toxic behaviour and will eventually get to a point where keeping score is your primary focus.
When you choose to be great at relationships, you can’t force your partner to do the same. You need to do it 100% for yourself. Would you ask your partner to become great at building computers if that wasn’t their passion? No, of course not. Choosing to be great at relationships is something you need to do for yourself.
But, here’s the best part:
I’d love to encourage you to commit to becoming really, really great at relationships. Commit to spending an hour a week reading articles on the subject, talking to your partner about what he / she wants out of life and take the time to better understand who they are as a human being. The more time you spend becoming a skilled communicator and relator, the better success you’ll see now just with your partner but with everyone else in your life, too.
Commit to greatness.