If you ever get the chance to hear Dr. Gary Krahn speak, take it. Not only is he a great speaker, he inspires greatness. In fact, his vision as head of La Jolla Country Day School is to “inspire greatness for a better world.”
The first time I heard Dr. Krahn speak was at an education conference this spring. I was riveted. It was no yawner of a lecture. He asked us to think about the world and what was important in it. He shared his experiences building a university in Afghanistan and his experiences with the challenges women face in attaining an education there. He talked to us about how the brain is wired to see what it wants to see and challenged us to check our biases and be more watchful of what information we are taking in.
This was a conference on K-12 education. Dr. Krahn raised it from an ordinary, acceptable experience to a great one. He tends to do that.
He talked about greatness more recently at a Town Hall Meeting at La Jolla Country Day School. In unveiling the new strategic direction of the school, he explained that greatness does not come by accident. You have to be deliberate in your choices and actions to be great.
In Dr. Krahn’s words:
Research has shown that the most successful people on the planet were not smarter than their counterparts in their field. They did, however, have four distinctions.
- They encountered advantages along the way in the form of access and mentors.
- They were raised in an environment to question “what is” and challenge the norm.
- They had a stronger work ethic.
- They were people of character.
Two things stand out to me here. First, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be great. Second, it takes hard work to be great. Not only does it require a strong work ethic, but it involves being a person of character. That means doing the right thing and not being lazy and slipping up—also hard.
For many of us, greatness in the big sense is too much work and sacrifice. And that’s okay! But we can endeavor to be the best that we can be and strive for greatness in our own way. Being great doesn’t necessarily mean being one of the most successful people on the planet. It can take the form of being a great parent or boss, or being a great programmer or team player, or even a great friend.
In the coming weeks, you will hear a lot about being grateful. I challenge you to be greatful.