“Not time for reading. For controlling your arrogance, yes. For overcoming pain and pleasure, yes. For outgrowing ambition, yes. For not feeling anger at stupid and unpleasant people – even for caring about them – for that yes.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 8:8
Marcus Aurelius was great. Was he perfect? No. Was he great every day? No. What makes him great was he was consistently good.
That’s what this quote reflects. He’s looking back on times where he was not good and reminding himself to be good.
Be good today. You don’t have to be great. Just good.
Consistency is what makes greatness. A string of good days is enough.
When you stumble, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and be good the next time.
No one is perfect. To ask someone to be great all the time is a lesson in futility.
Look at anyone who is considered “great” they all stumbled.
Winston Churchill, without his leadership in World War II, would have been considered a failure.
“He destroyed his credibility through his advocacy of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in World War I, policies on Ireland, mismanagement of the British economy during the interwar period, stubborn defense of the Nazi-sympathizing Edward VIII when he was forced from the throne, and most of all by his vitriolic and (even by the standards of the era) astonishingly bigoted opposition to Mahatma Gandhi and Indian independence.” – Gautam Mukunda, Churchill the Failure: The Paradoxical Truth About the Best and Worst Leaders
Churchill picked himself up and kept trying to be good. He didn’t always accomplish that, but he never stopped trying.
No one can be great every day. Good is even hard.
We look back on great politicians, athletes, and public figures and think they walked on water every day.
They all stumbled, but they kept going. They were good more often than they were great.
But they were good consistently.