Where are the great leaders? It seems to me I don’t see them in the news, the business world, the government, the social structure or the spiritual/religious structure. What has become of the greatness in our leaders of today? What makes up greatness? Have we succumbed to success and not greatness? Have we measured greatness by bank accounts, celebrity status, the ability to control more people or headlines and tweets?
Why is it so difficult today to create greatness? What does it take to foster it in a person? What has happened to our society that we care so little for it and are happy to confuse wealth and power with greatness. Are we more naive? Why do we demand so little of our leaders. Why do we settle? What does it say about us?
I turned to my old companion for answers, “The Wisdom of Wallace Wattles”. Wattles was a simple farmer from upstate New York who wrote a book in 1911 regarding the “Science of Getting Rich”, “The Science of Being Great” and “The Science of Being Well”. Since this book was not copyrighted, over the years many people took from his writings and turned it into their own books–“The Secret” being a very popular book that used Wattles materials.
It was always his segment on “The Science of Being Great” that struck a chord with me. What does make a person great, how do you acquire the characteristics of greatness? Are our current life and times conducive to greatness? Here is what Wattles has to say on the matter: “Wisdom is the essential basis of greatness. Wisdom is the power to perceive the right thing to do. The man who is wise enough to know the right thing to do, who is good enough to do only the right thing, and who is able and strong enough to do the right is a truly great man. He will instantly become marked as a personality of power in any community and men will delight to do him honor.”
“Wisdom is dependent upon knowledge. Where there is complete ignorance there can be no wisdom, no knowledge of the right thing to do. Man’s knowledge is comparatively limited and so his wisdom must be small, unless he can connect his mind with knowledge greater than his own and draw from it, by inspiration, the wisdom that his own limitations deny him. This he can do; this is what the really great men and women have done. Man’s knowledge is limited and uncertain; therefore he cannot have wisdom in himself.”
“Only God knows all truth; therefore, only God can have real wisdom or the right thing to do at all times, and man can receive wisdom from God. I proceed to give an illustration: Abraham Lincoln had limited education; but he had the power to perceive truth. In Lincoln we see pre-eminently apparent the fact that real wisdom consists in knowing the right thing to do at all times and under all circumstances; in having the will to do the right thing, and in having talent and ability enough to be competent and able to do the right thing.”
“Greatness is only attained by the constant thinking of great thoughts. No man can become great in outward personality until he is great internally; and no man can be great internally until he THINKS. No amount of education, reading or study can make you great without thought; but thought can make you great with very little study. You are not mentally developed by what you read, but by what you think about what you read. Thinking is the hardest and most exhausting of all labor; and hence many people shrink from it. We must either think or engage in some activity to escape thought. Most people spend the greater part of their leisure time running away from thought, hence they are where they are. Read less and think more.”
“The average person’s idea of a great man, rather than of one who serves, is of one who succeeds in getting himself served. He gets himself in a position to command men; to exercise power over them, making them obey his will. The exercise of dominion over other people, to most persons, is a great thing. Nothing seems to be sweeter to the selfish soul than this. You will always find every selfish and undeveloped person trying to domineer over others, to exercise control over other men.”
“The struggle of the business world today is the same as that on the battlefields of Europe a century ago so far as the ruling principle is concerned. Rockefeller, Carnegie and their kind (today would be similar to Bezos, Trump, Buffet, Putin) are not after dollars but power. It is the principle of the Pharisee; it is the struggle for the high place. It develops able men, cunning men, resourceful men but not great men.”
“Begin to deal in a great way with small things. Begin to deal in a great way with the people around you. You can be great where you are. You are not made great by the location in which you happen to be nor by the things with which you may surround yourself. You are not made great by what you receive from others and you NEVER manifest greatness so long as you depend on others.. You will manifest greatness only when you begin to stand alone. Nothing can make you great but thought.”
Are today’s leaders without wisdom? Have they given time to thought? Have they combined their own wisdom with Divine wisdom? Are they here to be served versus being of service?
“All that man is outwardly is but the expression and completion of his inward thought. To work effectively he must think clearly. To act nobly, he must think nobly.” Channing
Noble actions, wise decisions and service is in short supply. What can we do as individuals to recognize and promote those of greatness?