Here’s why: the greatest don’t think they’re the greatest. And they certainly don’t tell people that that’s their aim on the way up.
Yes, they must have set their bars for standards, expectations and tolerance in another stratosphere compared to us. But they never come out and say, “I’m the greatest to ever do this.” It’s almost always a happy accident.
You can’t predict or plan greatness. You can’t manufacture it. It’s just something that happens when the right set of cultural and societal circumstances comes about. When you have the right blend of ideas, techniques, practices, attitudes and opportunities, at the right time.
If you have high ambitions, don’t be disheartened by this. Just rethink the approach.
When we think about the greatest, it’s always in relation to someone or something else. The greatest has wrapped up in it’s very definition the idea of comparison. Greatest implies greater than everyone else.
But the greatest achieve their status by forgetting about comparison with others. Instead, they compete with themselves, over and over, forever and ever. Their ultimate aim is not, “I want to be better than X.” Instead, they say, “I want to be better than I was yesterday.” And they say and act on that every day, for decades.
That’s how greatness comes about. It’s a consequence of two things. A relentless focus on bettering yourself every day and in every area, and a relegation of comparison to the bottom of the heap. The only thing the greatest compare themselves with is themselves yesterday.