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The Two Sides of Realizing Greatness

Why Les Miserables? Find out below . . .

Have you ever tried to convince people of their unlimited potential—that inherent greatness you can see lying dormant? But nothing happens until someone or something comes along and—boom!—they realize it?

Which leaves you sitting there, thinking “I’ve been telling you this forever!”

While we’re happy they’re seeing the truth, we may feel a bit hurt that we couldn’t reach them. We may wonder what it was that made everything click. Or maybe we think of it like this—what were we missing or what could we have done better?

When it seems as though we’ve failed, it’s natural to analyze our performance. But in matters of another’s heart, there are two factors to remember:

    1. It has nothing to do with us.
    1. It has everything to do with us.

Perhaps an explanation’s needed . . .


It starts with one of my favorite book prefaces, from Les Misérables:

“So long as civilisation shall permit law and custom to impose a social condemnation that creates artificial hells on earth, complicating our divine destiny with a fatality driven by humans; so long as the three problems of the age—man degraded by poverty, woman demoralised by starvation, childhood stunted by physical and spiritual night—remain unsolved; as long as people may be suffocated, in certain regions, by society; in other words, taking a longer view, so long as ignorance and misery endure on earth, books such as this cannot but be useful.”

Victor Hugo’s book was first published in 1862, and its words can still inspire my heart 157 years later—I just cried re-reading the ending. But why did I turn to it?

It has nothing to do with Hugo.

He put his words into the world before any of us had arrived, so if we feel the pull toward his book, it’s because our inner worlds, external experiences, and journeys to purpose have led us there.

And if we aren’t yearning to read its 800+ pages?

It has nothing to do with Hugo.

The book’s a masterpiece, but not the language every soul speaks.


If we peek into the reading log I’ve kept since 2003, we’ll see some motivational gems prior to 2014—What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self, The Last Lecture, The Purpose Driven Life.

But Finding Your Element by Ken Robinson fully convinced me of my unlimited potential in 2014. And I left the biotech world a couple months after reading it to pursue whatever my purpose might be.

Does that mean the other three books failed me? NO!

In fact, I can remember the point at which I read each of them and how they nudged me toward realizing my all. Without them, I may not have been ready to begin this journey when I did.

Which is why failing to ignite an immediate, action-oriented “Yes!” in people doesn’t mean our encouragement’s been unsuccessful. Our achievement may instead look like the following:

    • Making it into their subconscious, where our words can percolate.
    • Placing in them a magnet for similar encouragement, based on the law of attraction.
    • Adding to their internal existing file of evidence that supports their unlimited potential.

So let’s keep reflecting to others the greatness we see in them, with no attachment to the outcomes. Because even though it’s not about us, it may not happen without us.

What’s been nudging you toward realizing your own greatness? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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