Each of us has the potential for greatness within us. What that greatness is really depends person-to-person. What matters most, though, is that you recognize and work hard to realize that greatness. In a recent meeting I had with my interns at the P&G Smart Lab, I left them with some parting words. These are those words.
Step 1 - Open yourself up to the realm of what is possible
You have to tell yourself that you CAN do something new, something unique, and something that will have a great impact on the world. This world is one of great possibilities, and opening yourself up to that realm of possibility should leave you feeling hungry for more, antsy to do something, and anxious to get started with your ideas.
Step 2 - Learn & grow
If we are to become our very best selves, we need to be able to rise to the occasion. We can't do that if we haven't become moderately knowledgeable and expert in something. Greatness was never achieved by the people who knew "enough" about a topic. Greatness is achieved by experts. So take some time and become and expert in something. Become a sponge and learn everything you can about that topic - and then learn everything you can about peripheral topics. Doing this should leave you feeling empowered and confident in your understanding.
Step 3 - Ignore the naysayers
They're everywhere. Sometimes they take the form of "experts". They like to tell us that it can't be done because it's never been done before. Or that we can't do it, because if THEY can't do it, surely you can't do it either. Just forget these people. They're stuck in their modus operadi and will never achieve greatness because they've already decided that it can't be done. Do ignore them ignorantly - because within every cynic there is a little bit of rationality. This step is hard to get through, because it leaves you feeling very lonely and often questioning yourself.
Step 4 - Cling to your champions
With this step, you overcome the challenges of the previous step. Identify and spend time with those people who believe in the same things as you. You may be surprised that there are more people out there who want to believe in you. They want you to succeed. Find those people and refer back to them regularly. They'll help keep you grounded in reality but also help you work towards your great idea. Time with them should leave you feeling empowered and confident in the path you have chosen.
Step 5 - Watch for your opportunity
Don't give up when it doesn't come immediately. Take your time. Be patient. But also, don't be complacent. Actively work towards your goals and recognize the missing pieces. You haven't achieved your goals yet because of those missing pieces - so take time to evaluate what you're missing and work to achieve that. This step should leave you feeling ready - like a runner waiting for that starting gun to go off.
Step 6 - Seize your moment
When that opportunity arises, pounce with a vengeance. If you've done your homework, you'll recognize that opportunity and will be ready and able to make it happen. Stand up, stand strong, and stand confident in what you have been preparing yourself for. Then, when it happens, deliver with greatness. Do your very best work. Don't leave anything in reserves - put it all out there. Doing this should leave you feeling like you are on top of the world.
Step 7 - Reflect with gratitude
There is no such thing as a self-made success. You have worked hard, and continue to work hard and long, knowing that you have started something amazing. Keep up that good work. We are hard-wired to finish things. But every now and then you should pause and reflect and recognize all of the support and guidance you have received along the way. Recognize the contributions of others. Thank them. Acknowledge them. And help them realize how much you love and appreciate them. Doing this should leave you feeling very grateful.