Do What You Don’t Want To Do by “The Study of Great”

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across Robert Krickeberg’s thought-provoking blog, The Study of Great. I was thrilled to see that someone else in the blogosphere is also studying the same topic.

After reading his post, Do What You Don’t Want To Do, I had one of those ah-ha moments! That day, I had been asked to do something I really didn’t want to do. I hadn’t mentally prepared myself to be given a task that deviated from my plan. Up until then, everything I had worked on was in pursuit of a specific goal. I recall spending more time complaining (internally, of course) about the task than just doing it. I had my priorities completely backwards. As it turned out, the lessons I gained from the task I didn’t want to do were crucial for achieving my goal.

The cold, hard truth is that you will encounter roadblocks that you don’t want to deal with but sometimes you have to. As Robert explains, you have to do them because (1) it’s required, (2) it creates enjoyment, (3) it will make you a better person, and (4) it’s a challenge.

I couldn’t agree more! Take a look at his blog post Do What You Don’t Want To Do. You might have an ah-ha moment just like me.

Do what you have to do. Get it done, learn from it, and then refocus your efforts. You’ll be glad you did!

Primary Greatness: Saving a Labradoodle

Now that I’m actively doing research for my All Things Great project, signs of greatness are appearing in the most unusual places. I am really amazed by how this journey is unfolding.

Saving a Labradoodle

While driving to an appointment on Friday evening, I saw an energetic dog happily playing in the middle of a busy, two-lane country road. The dog was having the time of her life running after three cars like they were large bouncy balls with wheels. The severity of the situation did not seem to phase her in the slightest.

As the cars slowed around her, she bounded off the road oblivious to the danger around her and onto the lawn of a nearby home as if the game was over.

I pulled over a few minutes later to post the below update to the Lost and Found Pets Fluvanna Virginia Facebook page hoping her owners or a neighbor would see it. At the time, I didn’t know the dog’s breed so I did the best I could by leaving a brief description and approximate location.

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When I checked Facebook an hour later, I learned that Erika, the Director of Green Dogs Unleashed (a local nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs), saw my post. Without hesitation, she drove to the area through which I had driven, found and saved Rosa the Labradoodle, and located her frantic owners.

Erika later explained that North Boston Road in Troy, VA claims the lives of at least one animal every week which is why she didn’t hesitate to search for the dog. I couldn’t agree more with her statement that, “it is so important our community works together for the betterment of our animals.”

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Is this an example of something great?

I would argue that Erika’s actions are an example of primary greatness as discussed by Dr. Stephen Covey in his book Primary Greatness. “A successful life”, writes Covey, “is about primary greatness—a life of duty, honor, integrity, perseverance, self-sacrifice, and service, regardless of material rewards or circumstances” (p. xiii).

Erika unhesitatingly drove to the area in question knowing the road is dangerous to pets, searched until she found Rosa the Labradoodle and located her owners. Few people would have taken the time out of their Friday evening to find and save someone else’s dog. I think this is pretty great! Maybe it’s not solving world hunger, but for one dog, and one family, it means everything.

Erika, thanks so much for showing us an example of primary greatness! ❤


Three Thought-provoking Books For a More Fulfilling Life

Self-help books are a dime a dozen, and even then, they are rarely worth the cost or the time to read them.

In the past month, even before starting my All Things Great Project, I read the following books:

I don’t consider these books to be self-help books per se, but they do focus on some of the foundational things that lead to a more fulfilling life. I was surprised to find a common theme in all three books. The authors intentionally created a set of principles to improve their lives and, most importantly, they tracked their progress.

In the early 1720s, the famed American printer, inventor, scientist, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin, embarked on a moral perfection project which included 13 virtues (temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, humility) which he systematically measured in a journal. Knowing the difficulties of working on all 13 virtues at once, he focused on one per week. Throughout the course of one year, he went through the cycle four times. In the pages of a notebook, he made a chart with seven columns for the days of the week and thirteen rows for each virtue. When he committed an infraction, he would put a black dot in the box. He was surprised how full of faults he was. (Isaacson, pgs. 89-92)

Dr. Stephen Covey, in his book Primary Greatness, believes there are 12 levers, or principles to success—integrity, contribution, priority, sacrifice, service, responsibility, loyalty, reciprocity, diversity, learning, renewal and teaching. He dedicates a chapter to each lever and encourages readers to keep a personal journal to track their progress toward what he calls “primary greatness”. For additional details on what primary greatness means, see my blog post called, Book of the Week: Everyday Greatness. (see chapters 6-17).

Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project created 12 personalized principles which were: “Be Gretchen”; let it go; act the way I want to feel; do it now; be polite and be fair; enjoy the process; spend out; identify the problem; lighten up; do what ought to be done; no calculation; and there is only one love. Rubin chose these particular principles because they embodied the changes she wished to see in her life. She kept a blog of her progress and later turned her discoveries into a book.

Prior to now, I never considered creating a set of principles for myself nor did I ever think to track my progress. I am beginning to wonder if this is the next step in my project.

While we may be hopelessly flawed, we are unique in that we can improve upon these flaws with time and effort. And maybe, just maybe, discover that we are in fact doing great things in small ways.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

My All Things Great Project

In March 2018, a close family member was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The news was devastating. 😦

Not surprisingly, my eight year old desire to do great things re-surfaced with a vengeance.

Unanswered questions raced through my mind. What if I don’t live to 100 like I planned? What if I die before I have done great things? What if I never make a real difference in anyone’s life? What if…? What if…? What if…?

I vowed to figure out what great means to me… once and for all.

How it began

My mother told me the sad news when I was eight years old. My sister Vanessa Jane died of complications from spina bifida and hydrocephalus when she was four days old. I was born 13 months later.

If my sister had lived, she would have required around-the-clock care. My parents almost certainly would not have had other children. This was a sobering realization for a girl of eight. That year, I decided that I had a duty to do great things (I said this so many times growing up that I lost count) to honor her memory and live the life she didn’t get to enjoy.

The problem is that I never defined what great meant to me; not even when I got older. I spent the better part of 40 years relentlessly pursuing what I thought was great. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something was always missing. There just had to be more to life, I would say frequently. My husband would look at me patiently. “Why don’t you go for a run, he would say?” You’ll feel great afterwards. I almost always did..

The Project

In honor of my sister, I have begun a journey to define what “great” is, determine what it means to me, take steps to do “great things” and read everything I can on “being great”.

I plan to share updates, thoughts, questions and insights throughout this journey. Please feel free to share questions, ideas, and thoughts as I start my new journey. I would love to hear from you!


Rest In Peace, Vanessa. There are no goodbyes. Where ever you’ll be, you’ll be in my heart. Ghandi

DIY: Vision Board for Goal-Reaching — The Minimalist Taurus

This is an amazing idea for capturing your dreams in a visual manner! I think I am going to try this. Thank you so much, @theminimalisttaurus. 🙂

To view the original post, please click on the photo below.

Today I wanted to share a DIY I made almost 2 summers ago. The reason I wanted to share now was because after taking it out of its storage, I was shocked to see that 3/4 of it had already happened! At the time I was creating these goals of mine and placing them in […]

via DIY: Vision Board for Goal-Reaching — The Minimalist Taurus

“I am just a _______ (fill in your role)” Change your perspective, change your life.

All too often I hear the phrase, “I am just a _______”, followed by an audible sigh.

The blank section might be just a spouse, a mom, a marketing representative, a teacher, an analyst, a volunteer, a whatever-job-or-role-you-choose. This simple phrase implies that you aren’t living up to your personal expectations, you don’t have much control in your job (e.g. I am just this, not that), you could be doing something different but aren’t, and/or your opinion isn’t valued.

When you say the above phrase, do you ever take action afterwards? Or, do you go back to your job feeling dejected?

Perhaps you need to start by changing your perspective.

Let’s give you a new job title! The only rule is that the new job title has to be something you admire and is somewhat related to the position.

As an example, you are no longer:

  • Just a spouse. You are now your husband or wife’s best friend! Doesn’t that sound better? Best friends are awesome!
  • Just a mom. No way! You are a now a Mentor or Advocate for your child or children.
  • Just a marketing representative. Absolutely not! You are now a Business Catalyst.
  • Just a teacher. How about viewing yourself as a Sculptor of Minds?
  • Just an analyst. No way! You are now a Writer!
  • Just a volunteer. Promote yourself to Fundraiser, Advocate, Consultant, etc.

By changing a job title, you can begin to transform yourself into someone extraordinary.

Start with how you view yourself and watch your life begin to change.

What does the word “great” mean to you?

Today is the first day of my All Things Great Project.

Since the age of eight, I have been obsessed with pursuing “great things” but never defined what great was. Over thirty years later, I still don’t feel like I have reached my true potential. In an attempt to better define my childhood dream of “doing great things”, I started a project focused on All Things Great. I intend to share my progress to better understand my childhood goal, and help anyone else wondering the same thing.

Starting with the definition seemed like the most logical place to start my project. I learned that the word great can be used as an adjective, noun, or adverb. You will also see the word as an interjection (e.g. Great! I just missed the last bus of the day) and in idioms (e.g. great with child).

For the purposes of my research, I chose to list only the adjectives and nouns as they relate to what a person does or is. As you will see, there isn’t just one definition. Below are a few of my results:

  • Merriam-Webster (adjective): Eminent or distinguished (e.g. a great poet); chief or imminent over others (often used in titles); markedly superior in character or quality; noble; remarkably skilled (e.g. great at tennis); marked by enthusiasm. As a noun: an outstandingly superior or skillful person (e.g. a tribute to the greats of baseball)
  • Oxford Dictionary (adjective): Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above average; Of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above average; informal (of a person) very skilled in a particular area. As a noun: An important or distinguished person.
  • Cambridge Dictionaryimportantpowerful, or famous; very good or very effectiveexcellent. As a noun: a famous person in a particular area of activity. 

I found several other online dictionaries that define the word great with similar definitions to the above meanings. They range from an action slightly above average which could refer to practically anything to an outstandingly superior person to a person of noble heritage.

I should have known that I would find numerous definitions. I clearly have my work cut out for me! Figuring out what great means to me is going to be a long process!

What is your definition of great?