Being great, or being successful

First, thank you to all my friends who remembered. Really appreciate it.

Let’s move to the topic of the day. I was talking to a senior who was talking about the difference between being great and being successful, and I think that this world has an unhealthy obsession with being successful.

Mark Zuckerberg is the Times Magazine Person of the Year. He is successful, I do not deny that. But is he great? I would hardly think so. A few centuries after he dies, the world will no longer remember him.

But people will forever remember great men who walked the surface of the earth. Names such as Socrates. Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Caesar, Sun Zi, Confucius. Faraday, Darwin comes to mind when one mention great men. Few of them were rich. Few of them are what in today’s world we term as successful in their time. But they were great.  And their accomplishments surpassed their own lifetime, and survive even into our own.

That’s what matters. Most of these great people either died in poverty, or defending what they believed in. And we remember them because they have done something for mankind.

Has anyone heard of Shutruk Nahhunte? He was an ancient king, the king of Ansham and Susa, and sovereign of the land of Elam, and for his time, one of the most successful kings ever. But his accomplishments cannot be found in any history book. A google for his name, come up with few results, majority of them only mentioning him by name. Quoting from what I feel is one of the best movies of all time “The Emperor’s Club”,

Because great ambition and conquest without contribution, is without significance.

Will you be successful? Or will you be great?

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2 thoughts on “Being great, or being successful

  1. Neither greatness nor success matters. The reason is that they are things you can hardly control.

    You should just focus on doing the best you can and reaching your full potential. If you cannot reach your full potential, you are unlikely to be either successful or great. Even if you are successful or great, but you cannot reach your full potential, you will not be as successful or great as you could be.

    Success and greatness are somewhat amorphous. People should just work on what they can control, TODAY.

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