This is what greatness looks like (it’s not what you think)

Words by Daniel Flynn
02 December, 2014

You could be mistaken for thinking I’m talking about the JCI awards ceremony. We live in a society that often equates greatness with a moment like the picture above, but I’d like to suggest a different perspective.

About one week ago I was at home lying on our lounge room floor in a decent amount of pain. I’ve always thought I handled stress well, but as I lay there with stomach cramps for hours like I’ve never had before, I realised that it had been a tough week. We’d encountered multiple trying situations as an organisation which each on their own would have been pretty big to deal with, but all at once was a real challenge. Our team are the best people in the world and together we made the right calls and worked through the challenges we faced but there were moments, to be honest, where I felt it was all too much. Moments where I had so much conflicting advice on what to do from experts that I felt like I was going to break.

Towards the end of the week I text one of my mentors to say: ‘I’m struggling and to be honest, I should have text you days ago’. He’s a busy guy, but the next morning he was there at our office. We sat on the rooftop and talked the week out and I shared about where I was at. He encouraged me for making the tough calls and for carrying everything I was carrying. Then at the end of our catch up he said this one line with a grin on his face; “This is what greatness looks like; don’t forget it”.

It was then that I realised this: it’s not the times that you get recognition in front of others on a platform or in a spotlight that mark greatness. It’s the moments that no one sees; the dark valleys walked, the mountains faced and conquered, the mistakes and failures made yet the endurance and resilience to push forward, and the tough decisions carried out.

Often it’s easy to see the platform but not the process. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many people who stand on many platforms but I know for a fact that they have gone through incredibly tough moments. I’m lucky that I get to work with amazing co-founders and team members who, day by day, carry out work that is literally award winning. This is why sometimes it feels a little awkward to receive an award if the whole team isn’t up on the stage with me, although it’s still obviously a huge honour accepting it on behalf of us all. We exist to make a difference at Thankyou and while our focus is never on winning awards, we are so grateful and humbled by the recognition because of the fact that it helps build more awareness for our cause which in turn leads to an even greater impact.

It’s an honour to stand on a platform, but greatness goes beyond that. Each of us can walk in greatness every day, and in fact most of us do – it just looks a little bit different to how society paints it. The path to greatness is a humbling, uncomfortable and at times, lonely, process.

— Words by Daniel Flynn