Every individual has the inherent desire to do something good, unique, and useful for our specie and leave a legacy behind. This desire is universal in every individual, irrespective of any religion, region, color or cast, age and social status, but very few people succeed to do anything worth mentioning.

You will find lots of people complaining that “had I had a chance I could do a lot for this company, community, city or country but—–”. After this BUT there is some pathetic long story of excuses, justifications, accusations and circumstances justifying their inability and the reasons behind ending up a non-performing frustrated person.

The above class of people are the ones who justify their inaction due to the circumstances and people around them who did not let them achieve their full potential.

But there is another class of persons who go even further. They are the ones who when they come across the story of a successful individual, they instead of appreciating his achievements immediately embark upon finding some faults either in his personality, or unfair advantage of his circumstances like his family support, his birth in a booming economy, his community or even his health, color and height.

Let me clear here a misconception, SUCCESS and GREATNESS are the most misunderstood phenomenon and both are used intermittently, but to me greatness is much bigger than success though success is the essential ingredient of being great.

Success is also an abused concept. Majority of the people measure success with the accumulation of wealth in the form of high bank balance, big houses to live in and other material belongings like the advertised life of “RICH AND FAMOUS”, but in most of cases this outside glamour hides a very dis-satisfied and troubled individual like Hollywood celebrities or RICH & FAMOUS drug addicts and then RICH AND FAMOUS Suicides viz. Merlyn Monroe , or Robin Williams. These people may be Successful but do not qualify to be called great.

In my opinion some basic differences between success and greatness are as follows:

Great people leave a legacy while successful people leave behind stories.
Greatness is doing good for others while success is doing good for yourself.
Greatness is selfless, while success is self-fulfilling.
Greatness brings fulfillment, passion, and significant contribution, while success brings comfort fame short lived glory.

Stephen R. Covey an author and famous inspirational Guru writes about path to achieving Greatness

“Everyone chooses one of the two roads in life- one is the well-travelled road to mediocracy, the other the road to greatness.”
He categorizes Greatness in three parts: Personal Greatness, Leadership Greatness and Organizational greatness.

I am confining myself to personal greatness which in my opinion can translate itself the rest of the two depending its application. Personal greatness comes from, compassion, emotion and dedication to your selected cause. And in my view Cause has to be bigger than you, your personal goals and even sometimes extended beyond your era.

Based on above criteria we find very few people who can qualify as great. In my limited knowledge the few people who I would rate as great are:

1. Qaid A Azam: Mohammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan whose courage, dedication, intelligence, fight and vision was far beyond his time and his person. People after about 90 to 100 years are now realizing the underlying truth of his theory which is popularly known as “TWO NATION THEORY”

2. The other person as who comes to my mind is the legend of my time is Mr. Abdul Sattar Edhi a giant in the frame of a feeble man. The man has left a legacy which will last much beyond our time and age and has left behind an institution the parallel of which does not exist anywhere.

3. Mr. Mohd Yunus the introducer of a very humble solution to a very difficult problem of poverty and providing them the support in such a simple, do-able and humane way that it changed the concept of lending through “GRAMEEN BANK”.

4. Mother Teresa, of course needs no introduction and the whole world knows, respects that feeble human personality who has left a legacy beyond common man’s reach.

There are others whom I respect and classify but is not purposely mentioning to avoid any controversies like some writers, philosophers and even political leaders.

Though like all of us I want to be successful, rich and famous but still somewhere deep-down buried in my sub-conscience is the desire to do something and leave a legacy to stand at the tail end of the que of such great people.


Rais Khan is a Chartered Accountant and an author. He has worked in corporate sector for 40 years in a variety of corporations ranging from IBM to Etisalat in UAE. He has worked and lived in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, USA, Africa and the UAE. Currently he is a freelance business consultant and part-time writer. He is the Editor of Pehchaan and can be contacted at [email protected]

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