This is the last week of the year – the week between Christmas and New Years, between December 25th and January 1st..  This week many of the articles you read and television programs you see will fall into (belong to) two different categories (groups).

Articles and programs in the first category look back (to an earlier time) and reflect on (think carefully about) the previous year (the year before). Articles like this often try to identify important ideas, products, or people from the previous year. Sometimes they suggest lessons that we can learn from what happened during the last year. Jeff’s last blog post – Top 5 Memories of 2011 – falls into this category.

The second kind of article or program looks ahead (to a future time) to the next year and suggests resolutions (promises we make to our selves) – promises to be better, do more, eat less, or try something new. Some people jokingly (trying to be funny) insist (to say something strongly) that resolutions are made to be broken (not kept).

A few days ago I was intrigued (made curious) by a reflective article I saw called The Price of Greatness. To be more precise (accurate), I was intrigued by the title (name) of the article.

It’s easy to understand how the writer, Mark Sigal, is using the word “price.” He doesn’t mean the amount of money you have to pay to become great. I’m pretty sure (certain) he doesn’t believe that  money can buy greatness. No, when Sigal uses the word “price,” he means the time, effort (work), sacrifice (deciding not to have something so you can get something more important), and all the other things that are required (necessary) to be great. Greatness is not cheap (not expensive)! It always has a cost.

Mostly I was curious about how Sigal used the word “greatness.” I wondered (asked myself), “What is his idea of a great person?”

What do we usually mean when we say someone is great? Does it simply (only) mean that they are above average – being better in some way than most other people? Or does it mean that they have been very successful, based on (determined by) how much money they have or how popular or powerful they are?

As I read Sigal’s article, it became apparent (clear) that he was using “great” in a unique (special or certain) way. In his mind, a great person is someone who does something significant – something that is important because of how it will influence or affect people in the future. In other words, greatness is the ability to benefit (improve the lives of) other people many years into the future. I like this definition.

This idea of greatness is not new. In fact, it’s very similar to the idea of wisdom that you find in some ancient (very old) poetry. There, a wise person is often someone who creates long-lasting value, or benefit, for other people. If we think this way, a great or wise person could be almost anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone who is rich or famous. In fact, it could be you or me.

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English.

Photo by W. Ediger.

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16 Responses to Greatness

  1. reza says:

    thanks a lot for this erudite scrip….
    GREAT,it could be you and me….believe it

  2. Libya star says:

    Hi Mr.Warren Ediger

    “greatness is the ability to benefit other people many years into the future.”
    based on the definition above, it’s pretty obvious that your great efforts ” you and Dr Jeff &Dr Lucy” will belong to Greatness ,as long as it helps people around the world to improve their english in an effective way….you are doing a great job…keep up the good work.
    wish you all a happy new year

  3. Libya star says:

    And never to forget the greatest greatness,the sacrifice of freedom fighters for the freedom of their nation,exactly like what happened in libya, when lots of libyan youths sacrificed their lives to liberate libya from brutal dictatorship, lots of them have given their lives so that all libyans will taste the greatness of freedom.god bless them all
    happy new year for the brave libyan people who overthrew the tyrant dictator and chose freedom.

  4. Barbara says:

    “Great” is simple word, but deep meaning.

    It depends on one’s thought, might have differnet definition.

    I go with Sigal’s idea, the one in my life makes me act wisely and efficiently,

    the one is “The Great”

  5. Peter says:

    What you have brough up here is too broad.
    There are no right or wrong answers to it.
    It is totally subjective. I mean the meaning can be chage based on the individual’s perspective.
    Too me,greatness has a spiritual connotation to it.
    I mean sth beyond our earthly vessels.
    It transcends the usual.
    Greatness is assosianted with people who are caring,giving,and generous.
    A person with big heart who helps people with expecting anything in,does not conclude that every mother has lived on the face of earth has been the greatest.
    You know what I am saying.
    There no definite answer to what you say.
    You guys are great and my heart goes to u guys.
    But,is it really how you guys treat everybody.
    Take Jeff for example , he is the greatest. I mean it
    But ,how do u explain his hostile feelings towards his neighbor kids and dogs.
    He shows the kindest attitude and personality here in eslpod
    But , in a total different social setting he assumes another personality totally different from what we know of him.
    I m kind here,you may say , Peter is a great guy. Am I great to my family ,u never know.
    So, you can extent the trait to every aspect of life.
    For some setting I m the greatest and for another social setting I may as well show some hostility.
    So, first define ” greatness.”
    Then foster the mindset assosianted with it.
    You know what I mean.

  6. Betty says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this ‘Great’ article.

    When I was reading Warren’s article, before I finished it, I kept thinking great people can be anyone.

    I would like to focus on people who may have a chance to read this post of mine here:

    All parents in this world have given the most essential elements to this world to make this world successful – people, human beings, who continue to contribute to this world.

    All our teachers here, Jeff, Lucy and Warren have been teaching so many students in this world without even receiving a flower from their students. They just continue to work hard in order to educate all these hard working and most of them poor people (the 99%) who cannot afford to learn English from private tutors.

    All our friends learning English as a second language work hard with an aim – to improve our standard of English which in return will enable us to do a lot more in our life.

    And then at the end of Warren’s article, I found Warren’s comment: “a great or wise person could be almost anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone who is rich or famous. In fact, it could be you or me”.

    I am happy, very, very happy. Warren’s right, and it proves I am right also.

    Welcome to the Great People’s Club. 😉

    15 hours to go before China steps into 2012, one day and 7 hours to go before Los Angeles steps into 2012.

    A HAPPY NEW YEAR of 2012 to everyone! 🙂

    Betty (from Hong Kong) 🙂

  7. Myo ko ko says:

    Yup, Warren,
    “Greatness” should always be meant in this way.
    But on most occasions, most people (sometimes me too) mistake what is not as real, important, essential, necessary.
    So we are recklessly following after money.
    After all, money? What for?
    It does just help us live in a comfort. (From this point, we still need it, but as just a “tool.” )
    It does nothing more. I truly believe!
    Thanks Warren. Me too love the definition.

    Thanks emiliano for inspiring me.
    Jeff once said that he is glad if someone thinks his jokes are funny.
    Me too, glad if someone thinks some of my comments sometimes turn out to be good! :))))))
    Yeah, you’re right! I can’t be here every now and then,
    because I need to cut corners. Well, you know it.
    Thanks again.

  8. emiliano says:

    Myo ko ko, they are really good.
    Yes, I am happy to have you here in the blog with us.
    You are so far away from Madrid, but your heart is warm
    close near to us and to me.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS, we hope to be on this earth as long as it could be
    possible, doing our best to make a nice place for the people we have near
    close to our side.
    A happy new year for you and your family Dear Warren, it is a honor to
    have you in this blog, with Lucy and Jeff.


  9. Tania says:

    Hi! Right now I am watching, I am listening to the annual concert from Viena.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2012!


  10. Ziba says:


    Happy New Year to everyone and especially to our teachers in ESL pod Team and You Warren with this Great topic.

    Greatness is a meaningful word and Warren described it clearely. Thank you Warren.

    I wish best wishes for everyone.

  11. Baljid says:

    Thank you Warren for your great greatness.
    I agree also with Peter who extended the meaning of the word in many aspects of life. For me, any person can be greatest one for his/her family at least, but for another social life he or she could show bad behavior depending on what situation there. So, there wouldn’t be direct single definition.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2012.

  12. Betty says:

    Dear Warren

    First of all, a very Happy New Year to you and your family.

    During the New Year Holiday, I was prevented to spend more time on reading and writing. For my duty as a wife, mother and daughter is to be dragged by my family to go everywhere with them, and to drag my family to go to visit my children’s grandfather and uncles and aunties and cousins.

    Now the Holiday is over, I would like to thank you again, more appropriately this time, for your great article with lots of vocabularies and a nice picture which closes the chapter of 2011 for us.

    I would like to quote from Mark Sigal’s article you mentioned in your article:

    “A final thought

    There are many of us who consider ourselves to be entrepreneurs, inventors, and startup guys and gals, but I think this quote from Jobs captures the essence that there are no shortcuts to greatness. Greatness is dedication. It’s a demand, and it’s a detail. Or, as Jobs said:

    I hate it when people call themselves entrepreneurs when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business.

    Amen. Somewhere in the universe, there is a hole where the light of Steve Jobs still shines through.”

    There are many great contributors – all teachers and students – here in this blog. My millions of thanks go to every one of you who have made my days enjoyable by reading all your messages and learn more about life beyond my little circle. 😉

    Surely there are no shortcuts to greatness, my kudos (special thanks to Peter for helping me learn this word) to every one of you.

    Thanks again, Warren, for you have always given us chance to be more successful in advance English.

    Betty 🙂

  13. Loky says:

    I realy liked this post. The full article could be find in [link removed]. The “The flu game” and the Job’s struggle against cancer are really encouraging.

    For me, I agree 100% with Warren. I will add something though. A great is someone who did something significant (and unfogettable) IN ONE FIELD. All fields are not interconnected, so one can be greatest in one area are simply unkown in another…. For example Carl F. Gauss is one of the greatest mind in mathematics. However, he’s almost unknwn is almost all other ereas. So was Issac Newton in physics/mathematics. However there’re some areas that relate more or less all people such as music or painting.

    @Libya Star: I am sorry to tell you that we had been already fed up with some world’s mainstream media backed propaganda for about 9 months. Happy new year to you.

  14. Chinajoe says:

    Eslpod is great!
    Make yourself a better person could be great too.

    Happy new year! Everybody.

  15. emiliano says:

    Warren, as always you have posted something “great” in the best way that this word means.
    How many great people have I knew till this moment?
    Well, few, very few in fact.

    All my life I have been trying to be just a little great and it has been a really difficult task that
    never ends.
    For the last twelve years I have been some how a bit successful doing something I have not
    ever done and trying to adapt my skillfulness and mind to some new great responsibilities.

    To me “great” is my wife Cuca, one of the best persons I have ever met, generous and
    intelligent till not anybody know, only me could measure her “greatness” living with her
    more than forty years.
    Doing her best to make happy everybody at her side but also being as she used to be
    cheerful and funny after twelve years suffering an illness without desperate or complaining
    to me or to the people she loves or come home.

    “Great” also is Jeff, as far as I could know him Jeff is absolutely great because he and Lucy are doing something absolutely “great” and as persons they have to be so because it would be impossible not to be “great” when your labour has the huge dimension it has.
    Yes, Jeff and Lucy are one of the few “great” persons I have met.

    It is a pity I do not know you enough to say if you are or not “great” but I have the feeling
    that possible you may be in the little group of “great” persons by their actions.
    The signs are really good that is sure so please have all my thankfulness to you always.


  16. Sanaz says:

    Dear Warren,

    Thanks a lot for your great post. You always make me think deeply of life values and how we can live and be a great human.

    You wrote a concise definition for Greatness. Thanks again!

    Happy New Year!

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