To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them
(Charles de Montesquieu)
Greatness is developed by shouldering small responsibilities and becoming useful in little things. Make the best of what you have and bigger things will come your way. T. Alan Armstrong offers this advice, “Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find that great things happen for you, to you and because of you.” Forget about likes and dislikes; they are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness but it is greatness (George Bernard Shaw).
One of the truly great men in American history is Booker T. Washington. He was born a slave in FranklinCountyVirginia on April 5, 1856. His mother Jane was a black slave who worked as a cook and his father was an unknown white plantation owner. In the summer of 1865, at the age of nine, the family moved, walking all the way to Malden in Kanawha County, West Virginia to join his stepfather whose name was Washington. Booker went to work in the coal mines and later became a houseboy for Viola Ruffner who encouraged him to attend school. He did so and learned to read and write. When Booker was sixteen he heard about Hampton Institute in Virginia, a school founded for the purpose of training black teachers. He determined to go there and walked 500 miles to Richmond, Virginia. He had no money and slept under a wood plank sidewalk. He found a job washing clothes, earned money to buy food and continued the journey to Hampton. After arriving there the principal told him to sweep a room. He knew it was a test so he swept and dusted the room three times until not a speck of dirt remained. He was accepted into the school and worked as assistant janitor to pay for his room and board at the school. He went on to become a great scholar and administrator of his community. He founded Tuskegee Institute and more than any other black man of his time helped to elevate his people through education. HarvardUniversity gave him an honorary master’s degree in 1896 and he was the first African-American ever invited to the White House as the guest of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901. One event responsible for shaping Booker Washington into a man of destiny was a little thing—the care and diligence in which he cleaned a classroom resulting in him being accepted as a student at Hampton Institute.
Many desire to be great but few are willing to work and sacrifice to see their dreams become reality. Ralph Waldo Emerson declared, “A great man or woman is always willing to be little.” The greatest thing a man or woman can do in this world is to make the most possible out of the stuff that has been given to him or her (Orison Swett Marden).
Submitted 5/12/2009 7:49:08 PM | Author: Dan Turpin