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:
1. They are humble
Powerful, charismatic narcissists people suck light from everyone else to make themselves shine brighter. Great souls shine their light on everyone else besides themselves.
When you are in a room with a great soul, you feel like the most important person there — as does everyone else.
Prideful self-made, pulled-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps high performers brag about their achievements. Great souls give all the glory to God and the recognition to the people who have helped them in their journey.
Great souls are those Ken Blanchard was referring to when he said, “Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.”
2. They are mission-driven and mission-focused
Great souls know who they are and the God-given mission they were born for. They know they must “be about [their] father’s business,” as Christ put it. They have a magnificent obsession that consumes their thoughts, energy, and time. They waste no time with the trivial, titillating, mundane, fleeting, or degenerate.
What matters to great souls is the mission — not them. They are not in it for glory, praise, or recognition. They don’t do it to gain personal pleasure, privilege, or prestige.
In truth, the reason why they focus on mission is because of their submission to God and to a cause greater than themselves.
Great souls don’t find direction from opinion polls; they find guidance from their Master. They don’t listen to the clamoring of crowds; they listen to the whisper of conscience.
Living mission is a level far beyond striving to achieve goals. It’s not about personal achievement — it’s about changing the world.
3. They take responsibility
The most talented and brilliant people in the world are often sabotaged and crippled by the disease of blame, the cancer of victimhood. It’s easy for them to expect things to go their way precisely because of their talent and brilliance.
Not so for great souls, who take ultimate, unconditional responsibility for their lives, emotions, behaviors, and choices. They reject excuses and place no blame.
The powerful are often exposed as deceitful frauds or disgraced by secret vices. Great souls conquer their vices and temptations. They understand that what matters far more than their public reputation is their private character.
Great souls are brutally, vigilantly, relentlessly honest with themselves. They are constantly wary of self-deceit. They spend far less energy defending themselves than they do improving themselves.
4. They sacrifice and serve selflessly
Selfish high performers may feel satisfaction in their accomplishments, but they will never know the deep and lasting fulfillment felt by great souls who sacrifice and serve selflessly with no thought of personal benefit.
The ostentatiously wealthy may pat themselves on the back for their public displays of philanthropy, while great souls wear themselves out in anonymous charity.
5. They put their family first
High achievers with broken marriages and crumbling families has become almost a proverb.
Great souls know that no success can compensate for failure in the home, as David O. McKay put it.
The great souls I have known always make time for their families, no matter how busy or important they are. They keep their priorities straight and adhere to their core values no matter the seductions of fame.
Talent, brilliance, wealth, power, status, and prestige are held in high esteem by the world. But greatness is the true pearl of great price to which the wise, honest, and humble aspire.