Five Qualities of Great Souls

I know a great many high achievers.

I have worked intimately with and learned from plenty of profoundly talented and staggeringly brilliant people. I have spent much time with dozens of extraordinarily wealthy and astoundingly accomplished people.

This world abounds with powerful, charismatic, and clever people.

But I know precious few truly great souls, and I cherish them and the admirable example they set for me to aspire to.

The great men and women I know possess the following priceless qualities, which are as overlooked and undervalued by the world as they are rare:

How to Get Unstuck & Achieve Life-Changing Breakthroughs

breaking-through-glass-ceilingIn 2004, I spent my days driving long hours in a water delivery truck and lugging bottled water in stifling desert heat into convenience stores, for which the company paid me about $30,000 a year.

I had no idea what to do with my life.

I was just going through the motions of life, stuck in the rut of paying bills with no end in sight and wondering how to escape that rut. I wanted to do something important, something that really mattered, something that harnessed and developed my full potential to make a difference in the world.

But I couldn’t figure out what that was or where to start.

Can you relate?

The Answer to “If I Were a Rich Man”

tevyeRemember Tevye’s lament in Fiddler on the Roof?

If I were a rich man, so goes his hypothesis, I’d be the happiest, most contented man alive.

Don’t tell me you’ve never had similar thoughts. You may not have belted out your thoughts in song while you danced a little jig, but we’ve all had those thoughts.

If only money weren’t so tight…
If only we could travel a little more…
If only we could buy a bigger house…

If only, then…

Funny thing is, research has answered the question for us all unequivocally.

The Little Woman Who Started a Great War

Harriet_Beecher_StoweHarriet was born the sixth of eleven children in a small Connecticut town twenty-two years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

Her father was a prominent and outspoken minister, her mother the highly-educated and intelligent granddaughter of a Revolutionary War general.

A storm was brewing over deep flaws and uneasy compromises in the Constitution.

Little did Harriet know the role she would play in that storm…

The Superheroes’ Guide to Becoming a Hero

superheroesI’ve never been into comic book heroes, even as a kid.

I’ll tell you why: I’ve always rejected the model of “ordinary” citizens sitting around waiting for one hero to come and save the day. I’m of the “every common man a hero” school of thought.

But when you stop overthinking it (as I’m clearly prone to do) and view superheroes as archetypes from which we can apply lessons for ourselves, there’s much to learn from them.


Mind the Gap

Mind-The-GapIf you’ve ever been to London and ridden the Underground, you’re familiar with the famous phrase, “Mind the Gap” — a caution to rail passengers to be careful while crossing the gap between the train and the station platform.

There’s a lesson there: Potentially dangerous gaps are much more safely and easily navigated when we’re consciously aware of them.

But it’s the subconscious gaps that get us into trouble.

Viktor Frankl is known for another famous phrase related to different gap:

Peacefully Idle, Blissfully Worn Out

helpinghandYou can know with certainty that you have discovered a profound truth when you smack into a paradox.

Consider two quotes, the first from Robert Louis Stevenson:

“Extreme busyness…is a symptom of deficient vitality. It is no good speaking to such folk: they can not be idle, their nature is not generous enough.”

…and the second from George Bernard Shaw:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

So which one is correct? Are we to be generously idle, or serviceably worn out?

How Thinking Small Takes You Big

My wife and I have been reading The Conscious Creator,” my friend says, “and it’s got her really worried.”

“Oh? Why?” I ask.

“Because she sees that it’s got me thinking big again.”

“Why is that a problem?”

“Because the last time we tried to go big we lost everything. We thought we were going to get rich with some investments and we ended up failing big time instead.”

Remember the Water

gold-fish-in-waterI didn’t get killed by terrorists today.

In fact, I didn’t even awaken with the fear that I would, and I enjoyed the entire day without so much as a thought about the ravages of terrorism.

It seems like a strange thing to point out, doesn’t it?

I mean, no one in America spends their days in constant fear that a bomb could explode in their neighborhood, that this day could be their last.

And that is exactly my point.

Freedom Isn’t Enough

sordrawingThis isn’t political.

I want to assure you of that from the outset because our journey today starts with a man in a concentration camp yearning for freedom.

Actually, let me start with where I was first introduced to that man, one of my greatest heroes.

When I was just a teenager — to my best recollection it would have been in 1992 — I read a book that completely altered the trajectory of my life. I consider it to be among the top five books ever written in the history of the world.