I love reading about the lives of great people, contemporary or from times past.
And, judging from the proliferation of leadership and mentoring demand from people all over the place, I bet you do too.
What I love about these great people, to be specific, is to hear the story of their lives, especially when they are narrating it themselves.
So, who are these ‘great’ people?
There are the obvious ones, that is those whose names you can read in history books and who are unanimously recognized to have played a prominent role in the development of the human condition.
And there are the silent ones: those whose name is not in any school’s history book, whose name is not known by the greater public, and who have played a prominent role in the development of the human condition.
The difference between these two groups is clear: there are the famous ones, and there are the not-known ones.
I believe it is important to reflect on this passage for a minute, because too often I hear other people, at work, with my friends (sometimes I am saying it myself) that the people we should count among the ‘great’ are those in the newspapers, in the movies, or somewhat notorious or widely recognized in their field using the following expression ‘this guy really made it!’.
I won’t lie, for long time I have been having the same self-condescending considerations, judging how some people ‘made it’ because they were born to and others (like me) didn’t because we didn’t have the same resources, being it money, social upbringing or the right family name…
After all, I am, like you, a child of the mass-media civilization: it means that, for the good and for the bad, we have grown up exposed to all sorts of mediatic bombardment showing us images of what is considered acceptable, what not, who is successful and who isn’t.
After all, isn’t it the very mass-media civilization that has created the all-too-known images of success projected by Hollywood?
But this reflection is not about them, it is about us (you and me) and about the silent ‘great’.
I’ll explain better what I mean.
Generally speaking, I have always looked up at these icons inspired, amazed by the grandeur of their stature and (why not admit it?) with outright jealousy for their fortunes and lush lifestyles.
You see my family traces back to agricultural roots (like a majority of us since once upon a time we all had to do, in a way or the other, with agriculture!), my grandparents, and my great-grandparents before them, cultivated the earth for a living.
They created for themselves and their family a Spartan, although dignified, lifestyle. Nothing close to being abundant or even remotely ‘rich’ (in today’s more prosaic financial sense), but they didn’t lack anything essential and even spared some for those who had less than them and for who sometimes had nothing at all.
I remember the stories from my Grandmother (who passed away in December 2016 at age 88) who lived and grew a family in one of the places on this Earth that are closest to my heart, Quinto Vicentino: a small rural village in the outskirts of Vicenza, in the Gold District of Italy.
Most of those stories revolved around the great manor house that my great-grandfather, working as sharecrop farmer at a local estate, managed to purchase following a most fortuitous occurrence (of which I’ll tell in a book that I’m writing about the story of my family).
This massive house (a mansion really) was (and still remains) my Family’s pride, and the symbol of most of what I hold dear, and the happy, youthful memories of myself and my sisters breezily living a joyful and playful rural life.
That house, it was confirmed in my Grandmother stories (unfortunately I was too small when my Grandfather died to clearly remember him), was a symbol for other people living there and those passing by as well.
There was a crochet-work (I can’t say who did it though) that dominated the great mansion’s kitchen, accurately framed and standing as the only object attached to that wall:
Questa casa è aperta al sole, alla gioia e agli amici (original Italian version)
This house is open to the Sun, to Joy and to Friends (English translation)
In times when it was difficult for people to even have enough to eat, I’m talking about most of the period before, during and after the second World War especially, it was not unusual for people to stop by and knock at my Grandparents’ door to ask for some water and something to fill their belly with.
True to the motto that stood out in their kitchen, my grandparents always had something to give and to offer. It may not have been much, but they never rejected any request for help, for as little as they may have had for themselves and for their family (although they never, luckily, suffered from hunger since they were living in a farm).
This thought had made me reflect on the stories of these many people, like my grandparents, who have truly been ‘great’ people.
Their names will never be in any school’s history book (they will be on mine though) and will not be commemorated in newspaper or TV show.
They undoubtedly played a prominent role in the development of the human condition.
They helped other people by saving them, at times, from starvation, they sustained the community they lived in and helped it thrive and BE a community.
They never were financially rich and they have never traveled the world. Yet, they remain great ‘silent’ people.
I bet you have similar stories to tell, about your families or friends.
Still, with all this, most of us are squashed by the pressure we feel around the world’s expectation on us being ‘successful’ in the way mass-media told is the right way.
Listen, I don’t have anything against the people who are considered ‘successful’ in financial terms, what I’m arguing here is that there is more than one way to be successful (you can read my article about reaching financial success here –>> http://notheretobreakeven.com/is-success-about-money-yes-and-no/).
While money is a key component of our economy, though, we soon as human beings realize that, after all, we don’t need as much money as we thought to be and feel ‘successful’.
Being ‘great’ people is what we human beings desire above all because great people are those who are able to transform their lives and those of the people they come in contact with.
This greatness is in all of us, and we are all able to take it out and make it evident to the world, once we realize it.
We are bound by our thinking that by financial success goes the way to greatness. Instead, through greatness itself goes the way to success, including financial one.
What is the difference between me, or you, and the story of ‘great’ people like my grandparents?
That, luckily, we don’t need to starve or crush our backs on the field to be able to have something for ourselves and to help others.
Our Digital world has enabled us to work SMARTER, not harder, and to create opportunities that our grandparents would have never believed possible.
Still, with this Digital ‘Elephant’ before our very eyes, we can’t see the obvious: that our freedom is at arm’s length, that all we need to do is to start reaching out with our hands.
And, if for my Grandparents cultivating the fields (i.e. very hard work) resulted in a dignified lifestyle (i.e. they were neither poor nor rich), a world of Digital Opportunities means being able to LEVERAGE digital resources to multiply the outcomes and generate more riches than ever anticipated.
The first reward is financial because suddenly people realize that they can generate their income online.
The second gift is freedom because the same people have the time, the energy, passion, and motivation to realize things that they never thought possible.
My Grandparents managed to be great people despite they really didn’t have much of what we today give for granted.
I have decided that I want to be a great person and touch many people’s lives online by making their ‘off-line’ life better, by helping them reach financial freedom and in turn get to their freedom life, so that they can as well express their own ‘greatness’ and improve other people’s lives.
If my Grandparents didn’t have much to work with, imagine what we will be able to achieve.
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