Greatness Continued is the third book of what is now referred to as the “Greatness Series.” People ask how I go about picking the folks to write about. First, they are all attached in some way to the world of sports. Second, it’s true that they have all passed away and, yes, these are my inspirational stories of meeting some of our heroes in person; but the truth is I don’t pick them as much as the fan does. In saying that, you still must remember that greatness is not self-contained just in sports. You may have been taught in school by a great teacher, worked for a great boss, or have been raised by great parents. You may be married to a great spouse. Greatness and great people are all around us. We are all capable of greatness. Most of us are competitive by nature and all the great ones seem to find something to focus on, something that reaches down inside of them and brings out that fire. Any time someone takes the time to change themselves for the better and in so doing touches others around them in a positive way, then greatness occurs. In life, we are all given two wonderful gifts: awesome potential and freedom of choice. What we do with those gifts will define us in the eyes of others, as great or just mediocre. Everybody probably knows someone who is famous, someone they consider to be great. Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.” The question for us then becomes, how do others achieve this so-called greatness?
In the world of sports, greatness comes with a daily bucket of sweat, an occasional blister, ice packs, pulled muscles, and uncertainty. It’s disguised in repetition, born of endless effort and attention to the smallest of details. Greatness is never given; it is earned, manufactured in the off-season, behind closed doors, in the darkest recesses of the gym, in the heat, while questions of am I good enough or am I ready, replay over and over in our minds. Greatness is sometimes served first with a spoonful of disappointment, failure, vulnerability, or embarrassment. Achieving greatness provides confidence, adrenaline, exhilaration, money, and a feeling of accomplishment. For most, the reward of becoming a great athlete outweighs the risk of failure. Most often, the process of becoming great is played out live in front of others, on a big stage, and in turn makes us feel alive, warts, and all. The side effects of greatness are like scars that can’t be seen, but nothing takes the place of a live sporting event. Greatness occurs when you hate losing more than you love winning, when you push your body and mind far past the point where most other folks are willing to go. Greatness most often changes the game.
Interestingly enough, in the end we all wind up as just men or women; because in real life, it’s not about how great an athlete, coach, a writer, or announcer you were, but about how good a person you have become. It just so happens that these folks became game changers along the way. So sit back and enjoy these stories. Be prepared to smile and wonder, to discover things about these heroes that you may not have known. I hope you will be able to see these people through my words. As a friend of mine, Dr. Tom Hollingsworth, once said, “At times we forget that inside those jerseys and under those helmets; they are all just human beings.” I dare you to become great!
Andy Purvis is a local author. His books "In the Company of Greatness" and "Remembered Greatness" are on the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble, at Beamer's Sports Grill 5922 S Staples, and online at many different sites including Amazon, bn.com, booksamillion, Google Books, etc. They are also available in e-reader format. Contact him at www.purvisbooks.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.