What It Takes To Be Great, To Be Remembered

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Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
– Robert F. Kennedy

The biggest steps in life are often taken by the smallest people. Or by people others mistakenly assumed were small.

Napoleon, Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan come to mind. I believe that Alexander the Great was a tad on the small size as well. Joan of Arc never made it out of her adolescence.

These people risked their lives in battle and were able to rally many to their causes. In a sense, all failed ultimately, even Genghis Khan who was losing control of his troops in his latter years (some said he was insane).

Yet of all the people who have gone before us in history, almost all are nameless to us. Only a few names can be recognized by people around the world.

We all want to be recognized in our lifetimes for our achievements. And most of us want to be remembered positively after we die for our deeds and our successes. Yet how many warriors who lived before your own time can you name? Given the chance, I’ll bet you could name more famous scientists than warriors. Newton. Einstein. Copernicus. Others of you could name stars of science from the great Islamic period, or from India or China. Names of philosophers will trip off the tongues of many.

These people all took great risks, not just to test their scientific hypotheses or philosophical treatises, but sometimes to make their results public. Copernicus only made his discoveries public just before he died because he was afraid of being fired and excommunicated by the church, his employer. Newton was imprisoned and almost snuffed for his discoveries, or he would have been if he had not recanted his “erroneous” statements of discovery. The falling apple was the least of Newton’s worries.

Even scientists of today take great risks when making their discoveries public. Remember the outrage that faced the two scientists in the early 1990s who announced their discovery of cold fusion to the media before it was printed in a scientific journal and reviewed by their peers? They found it hard to get work anywhere that didn’t require them to ask customers if they wanted “fries with that?” Now a cold fusion production facility is nearing completion in Europe and another is planned for the US. The two scientists, however, never recovered their reputations.

Greatness comes with risks. If it were easy, everyone would want to be famous for their greatness, then very little would ever be considered great again.

Greatness, the condition that allows people to be remembered for their deeds long after their deaths, is not for the faint of heart. Those who would be remembered for generations must be willing to take great risks of failing, or of being failed by others who have something to lose by the deeds or something to gained by criticizing the great deeds of others.

If you improve the life of one other person in your lifetime, your time here was well spent. If you improve the lives of many others, you deserve to be remembered, no matter in what form the improvement was made.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how to teach children what they need to succeed, to thrive and to be remembered if they so choose.
Learn more at http://billallin.com Contact Bill Allin directly at http://www.contactify.com/d012d


2 thoughts on “What It Takes To Be Great, To Be Remembered

  1. Thank for mentioning Pons and Fleischmann who sincerely tried to bring scientists together, albeit in a world not quite ready at the time. One other note, when mentioning cold fusion, please get your facts straight. I don’t think anyone has made such an announcement. If so, you should cite your sources of information instead of just hearsay. Is there a web site that mentioned this?


  2. It wasn’t the world that was not ready for Pons and Fleischmann, but the scientific establishment that was not permissive of their exposing their findings to the media before vetting them in a peer reviewed journal.

    I consider it general knowledge that the EU has nearly completed a cold fusion facility in France. I don’t feel the necessity to verify general knowledge, even if James Calhoun considers it merely “hearsay.”

    Use Google yourself, Mr. Calhoun.

    Thanks for your comment.
    Bill Allin

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