Work Hard to Greatness

“Greatness does not approach him who is forever looking down.” Hitopadesa [1]

Hitopadesa, ancient Sanskrit, known as ‘goodly instruction’ for princes. This quote brings to mind to question what does the word “greatness” mean and who is ‘princely’ enough to fall under this godly word?

We are graced with a world filled with individuals who have gone before us and are in front of us today that may be acknowledged as ‘the greats.’

The “greats’ may be actors, political leaders, musicians, artists, architects, scientists, athletes, doctors, teachers, philosophers, poets, writers, comedians, photographers, journalists and a host of technical or business savvy, brilliant minded people and more.

The age prescribed among greats is of no consequence, and we can name a few from as far back in time as Aristotle, Plato or Michelangelo, Einstein and to present day highly notables to the likes of Madonna or business hip-hop entrepreneur Jay-Z. There is Bill Gates who founded Microsoft Corporation and created the first operating system for personal computers and Steve Jobs, American business magnate and inventor of Apple.  Up there among the ranks of the rich and famous is our world’s media queen Oprah Winfrey. See Forbes List of Billionaires 2011

According to Forbes Jay-Z’s earnings are around $83 million. How much money is too much and is money-making the ultimate denominator that brings one to greatness? With this credit does ability and talent automatically show leadership and inevitably brace the world to exemplify making money is the path to greatness. Known as one of the richest men in the globe, it’s reported Bill Gates’ mantra that self-made him to be the man he is today – hard work. He believes if you are intelligent and know how to apply your intelligence, you can achieve anything.

Talent and Intelligence or Hard Work

Forbes writer Geoffrey Colvin writes in his article What it takes to be great -Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work,  “scientific experts are producing remarkably consistent findings across a wide array of fields. Understand that talent doesn’t mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It’s an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well.  He further explains, British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, “The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.”  Colvin brings to light that the first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.

Interestingly Colvin states, “that for most people, work is hard enough without pushing even harder. Those extra steps are so difficult and painful they almost never get done. That’s the way it must be. If great performance were easy, it wouldn’t be rare. Which leads to possibly the deepest question about greatness. While experts understand an enormous amount about the behavior that produces great performance, they understand very little about where that behavior comes from. He furthers adds, maybe we can’t expect most people to achieve greatness. It’s just too demanding. But the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn’t reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone.”

Watch>>  Al Pacino’s Inspirational Speech excerpted from Movie – Any Given Sunday – Coach and football team gather at a fooball game’s half-time (directed by Oliver Stone, starring Al Pacino, Jamie Fox, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, James Wood).

     [1] The Hitopadesa (goodly instruction), is an ancient Sanskrit work, Sanskrit being the principal literary language of India, taken from an older work called the Panchatantra or the five books, the source also of the collection known as the fables of Bidpai or Pilpay. The book consists of fables, one story growing out of another after the eastern fashion, with verses cited from ancient writers by the interlocutors, and was designed for the instruction of princes. It has been translated into many Asiatic and European languages.  
     Panchatantra (pŭn”chutŭn’tru) [key][Sanskrit,=five treatises], anonymous collection of animal fables in Sanskrit literature, probably compiled before A.D. 500 (see Bidpai). The work, derived from Buddhistic sources, was intended as a manual for the instruction of sons of the royalty. The fables are in prose, with interspersions of aphoristic verse. The stories in the Panchatantra appear to have entered European literature circuitously through an Arabic version (c.A.D. 750) of the translation into Syriac of the Pahlavi (literary Persian) translation (c.A.D. 550) from the original. A variant spelling is Pancatantra. Read more: Panchatantra —
    Bidpai or Bidpay, supposed name of the author of the fables of the Panchatantra . The name first appears in an Arabic version of these fables—hence they are called the fables of Bidpai. The word is probably Sanskrit, meaning “wise man” or “court scholar.” “Bidpai.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. 17 Jan. 2011 <>.
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