Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.—Mark Twain
Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, was one of the greatest authors and a humourist par excellence. His novels, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are considered classics in American literature and he is one of the most extensively quoted personalities in modern literature.
As children we dream of doing a million things “when we grow up”. Yet, all through the years, we hear people telling us to “get real”. All of us encounter such people, who may be disguised as our colleagues, teachers, siblings, friends or, some cases, even our parents. In the above quote, Mark Twain warns us to stay away from such people.
Twain says this because he is convinced that each individual is potentially great. He’s also sure that the world is full of discouraging people, who point out many reasons why you can’t be great. Note the tone of the quote—it’s an alert that we must watch out for such people. Twain also believes that people who point out your limitations can’t see your greatness because they themselves lack it. Mark Twain tells us to be wary of such individuals because they may inadvertently hamper our greatness.
If you study the lives of successful individuals, you will observe that they defied resistance early on. They ignored the dissuading advice that came their way from “small” people who didn’t understand how they will reach those goals. According to Twain, we can expect authentic encouragement only from those who are themselves great. Such individuals see potential greatness in everyone and consequently promote self-confidence and determination among others.
In our quest to seek out our greatness, we would do well to be around people who provide the much-needed dose of reassurance, while being cautious about everyone who points out that we don’t have it in us.
So, the next time someone ask you to “get real”, ignore their advice and continue to pursue your greatness.