I’ve been reading from an issue of NAUTILUS: Magazine of Thought from the 1920s. I’m not trying to be vague about the date, but rips on the front cover leave me with limited knowledge. The issue is from either September, October, November, or December (as only a -BER) remains. The BER is followed by 192 and another rip.
Like all of the NAUTILUS Magazines of Thought, BER 192 is exceptional.
One article in particular stands out to me, “The Desire to Be Great.” It was written by William E. Towne and he has tickled my brain cells – lo these many years after the fact.
The desire to be great is one of the four great primal desires that drive the human being to action and keep him living and working.
Unless this desire is fed in some way, unless there is some form of self-expression that will give it free play, the individual will get out of tune with life and drift toward sickness, failure, or crime.
In the last analysis all motives are personal. Trace any seemingly impersonal motive back to its origin and you will find it has a personal basis. And prominent in the motives of the individual is the desire to better his condition, to grow in power and greatness.
If the hope of advancement is discouraged and repressed, effort drops to a low level. The individual then takes the easiest way in every crisis. He grows outwardly indifferent. – William E. Towne
In the article, Towne points out how strong our desire to be great is. He also suggests that this primal desire is behind many (if not all) of our actions, thoughts, and words. He makes a case for this desire being behind criminals’ deeds but, personally, I don’t think I’m 100 percent behind him on this one. I think greed, laziness, selfishness, and an overall lack of respect for anyone or anything is behind criminal intents.
Having said that, I do completely believe, as Towne does, that this desire to be great is with us even in childhood. I also believe this intense desire follows us every day of our lives.
When a child shows specially mischievous tendencies the cause may quite often lie in his lack of adequate self-expression for this desire to be great. The remedy is to give him an opportunity to excel in something for which he has a special aptitude. His education should be flexible enough to make allowance for this, even if it be necessary to depart from established customs and methods of procedure. – William E. Towne
Outstanding! I’ve always felt that, generally, many children act out simply because they want attention – they want to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. If we help them channel this desire positively – in a way that’s best for them and everyone around them – everyone’s a winner. Most importantly, the child.
My husband and I had our daughters very close together. The oldest two (Emily and Brittany) were born 13 months apart and there were only 27 months between Brittany and Stephany. Even though I was a very young mother without ANY experience with children, I realized that each little girl should be encouraged to be an individual and that we should all encourage them to pursue their interests and establish their own glorious identities.
I’ve always made sure to greatly encourage and embrace each one’s special talents and interests. Emily has always been very literary-minded. She was reading classics before most adults even knew who the Bronte sisters were. Needless to say, we were frequent visitors to bookstores and libraries. Emily also expressed herself, from an early age, through writing – which I also encouraged highly.
Brittany is, and has always been, extremely artistic. I promise you, the girl can draw anything. Again, we always surrounded her with paint, sketching pads, pencils, art kits, and everything else you could think of. She’s enrolled in an art class now and continues to blow me away with her artistic talent. I’ve always told her that one of these days I’m going to write a cookbook and I want her to illustrate it.
Better yet, maybe Emily can write a children’s book and Brittany can be the illustrator.
As for the baby of the family, Stephany is a whiz with graphic art and web design. When Em and Britt get that children’s book created, Steph can make a website for it that’ll blow everyone away! When Stephany was just 13, she was building websites from the ground up.
My husband has always bought her every book conceivable on web design and graphic art. I was sorting through some of these books the other day, looking for something in particular and it occurred to me that the collective cost of all of these books could have bought a houseful of computers!
Oh well, like they say – if you think an education is expensive, try not having one.
Here are just a few of Stephany’s latest creations in graphic art. She made the banners on each of these sites:
When you feed a child’s desire to be great, they come to believe in themselves so strongly that no one can convince them otherwise. By contrast, if you doubt a child, they’ll doubt themselves as well. When you discourage them, you do more harm than you possibly realize.
I use these banners designed by Steph simply to illustrate (excuse the pun) that encouragement to be great can lead to remarkable (and beautiful) things.
When I taught Sunday School years ago, I had a little boy in my class that was as much trouble as he was cute. Lots of cuteness – lots of trouble. It didn’t take long to realize that he simply craved attention – even if that attention was reprimands and astonished looks from the other children. EVEN if that attention involved telling his parents that their adorable little boy was a perfect little nightmare.
I decided to approach it from another direction. I made him my special little helper. He was the one who would give out stickers each morning as the other children came in. This little scraper LOVED this duty! He was so excited each Sunday – he would come up to my desk eagerly to see what kind of stickers I’d brought for that day. I knew he loved Disney characters, so I naturally bought lots and lots of Disney character stickers for him to give out.
He became my biggest buddy and an absolute golden child in my class. His parents told me a million times how much he loved “Mrs. Joi” and that he never wanted to leave my class. To this day, of all the precious children I ever taught, this little man remains one of my absolute favorite.
Naturally, the desire to be great isn’t reserved just for young people. Whether we admit it or not, we all want to be great! In the same way a loving parent or Sunday School teacher would encourage a small child to find areas in which they can achieve greatness and improve their self worth, we should encourage ourselves as well. We should seek out ways to express ourselves and to push our boundaries.
The same could (and should) be said of our spouses, adult children, friends, relatives, and co-workers. We should be ever mindful of the fact that our every word and action either encourages or discourages those we love. Unless I have any monsters who read Self Help Daily… and I’m pretty sure I don’t!… none of us would ever, ever, ever want to discourage someone we care about.
If you’re anything like me, you actually care more about your spouse and children achieving greatness than yourself!
Make a point to encourage rather than discourage and instruct rather than insult. Find areas in which you can feel great and encourage others around you as they pursue their own greatness. A word of caution, though: Never try to find someone else’s greatness for them.
You can’t WILL someone else to go in a direction just because you want them to. Their path is their own choice, no one else’s. Remember, you’re their supporting cast – not their director.
May each of you achieve greatness that absolutely rocks your world!