What is the definition of ‘greatness’? There are many, it seems, but the one that sticks out the most is a quote from Friedrich Nietzche, the German philosopher which says: “Great men, like great epochs, are explosive material in whom tremendous energy has been accumulated.” Great men are those that are able to build themselves up from nothing and come out fighting on top. We take a look at some of the world’s most inspirational men and some of the lessons you can learn from them.
Ali may have been the top of his game at boxing, winning the world heavyweight championship in 1964 but it’s his behaviour out of the ring which should earn him the most respect. Speaking out about religious freedom, civil rights and more as well as being a confident, shining personality, Muhammad Ali is a great inspiration no matter what you do in life. Be confident and speak up for yourself and make sure your ideas are heard – great advice to take to the boardroom and beyond.
Love him or loathe him, you have to respect Simon Cowell’s portfolio. Working his way up from the post room at EMI Music Publishing to the music mogul we know him as today, it’s fair to say that Cowell is someone who takes advantage of opportunities and takes risks. The lesson? Don’t be afraid of failure. Hard work pays off and sometimes you need to take a risk to get where you want to be.
Credited with changing the fortunes of fashion label Gucci, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Tom Ford. Dropping out of NYU he switched to studying interior architecture at The New School before studying fashion and taking creative control of Gucci, then eventually setting up his own label. And if that wasn’t enough, he went on to direct the film A Single Man, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar – not bad for a first try. Don’t be afraid to try new things, if something doesn’t work out for you, there’s no shame in admitting defeat and giving something new a chance. This may help you to discover talents and qualities you didn’t know you had.
The saying goes, ‘no man is an island’ – which might be true, but one man can own an island, just like Richard Branson. Proving that success and greatness aren’t just down to being academic, Branson’s drive and ambition saw him launch a music magazine called ‘The Student’ before setting up his own record shops, and the rest is Virgin branded history! Be ambitious and don’t let anyone tell you that something isn’t in your reach as well as realising that you may need to start of small before you can achieve something great.
Great men didn’t get where they are by sitting around waiting for opportunities. Whether in money, life or love, those who take chances will have far more to them than those who sat and did nothing. Next time you’re looking for some real-life inspiration, think of powerful men like those above to help you realise that anything is possible with hard work and confidence.