To me, Greatness isn’t people dependent. It cannot be measured in the way we understand measurement. It cannot be measured by measuring the number of people it has directly affected or the amount of impact it bears on people.
Greatness is about the level of output of your pursuit. A sports person can achieve greatness. But this cannot be measured by the number of people he inspires or the role he plays in victory. And this cannot be measured with his peers, or his own performance in the past. This also bears no relation with the result of his pursuit. His greatness can be measured only through the level of his output / quality of his game.
Similarly, any policy maker, politician, leader, freedom fighter too can be ‘Great’. However, this greatness cannot be measured through the impact of his work on other’s lives. His greatness cannot be compared with the intensity of impact or the number of people (s)he has impacted. It can only be measured through the level / quality of her/his work.
Greatness, thus, cannot be measured through ‘impact’. The ‘impact’ is a by-product of the output in pursuit of greatness.
Greatness, in a way, is given undue importance. Greatness, in a way, is not rare. Greatness is of 2 types – Greatness in your Pursuit and Greatness in People. People who achieve greatness in their pursuit are not necessarily great. And, people who are great do not necessarily achieve greatness in their pursuit. It is our need to cherish things that are rare that makes us blind towards the greatness that is not omnipresent, but also not rare.
Greatness in pursuit is relatively easier to spot because it is closely linked to results. When in constant pursuit of greatness, the level of output rises automatically and sometimes surpasses the level of output of others, thus, making greatness in pursuit relatively easier to identify.
One cannot put a finger onto something to say that this is pursuit of greatness. It is not tangible, in that sense, but a combination of several aspects. One of such aspects is ‘drive’. However, the person must be driven to pursue excellence, not results. This is an important differentiator that must be consciously kept in mind at all times during the pursuit.
Greatness in pursuit is easier to find if their pursuit is backed by popularity, fame or commercial success. However, largely, we identify examples of greatness in pursuit only among those people who are driven to achieve excellence AND are pursuing what they love doing. It is rarer to find greatness in pursuit among those who are driven to achieve excellence in whatever it is that they do, but they don’t necessarily love what they are doing.
However, it ought to be rarer to spot greatness in people. Great people are rare to spot because of our insistence to measure everything, including nature of the person, personality traits, behaviour etc. But greatness in people goes beyond these tools for measurement. Their greatness can be experienced, not spotted or measured. And to experience their greatness, a certain level of maturity and openness to a different way of living act as pre-requisites which makes it rarer to experience.