The Road to Greatness
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
This morning I came across a quote by Joe Duncan that read “You’re going to be on the road to greatness for a long time before you eventually get there, so you might as well have fun along the way.” As I reflected on this quote, two things jumped out at me. The first was how bold to say that you are on the road to greatness. I quickly realized that I was being judgmental and that I didn’t even know what Joe was referring to. I don’t know Joe, but I do follow him on Instagram and his posts really speak to my desire for personal growth.
The second thought that jumped out at me was the question of greatness itself. What is greatness? As I pondered that question, several people that I have had the privilege to know came to mind. My grandfather was the first. He was a man with an 8th-grade education who left the family farm in Ohio during the Great Depression to run, and later purchase his father-in-law’s knitting mill in Brooklyn. According to my great aunt who worked for him, each night as he left the shop to take the train home, he took a few dollars along so that if he found a mother whose children didn’t have shoes, he could give her the money so she could buy them shoes. After the Depression, he sold the business and moved back to Ohio where he purchased a small dairy farm. He was a quiet man, with a huge heart and lived his life for others.
Then I thought of Philip Braun. Philip was the younger brother of G.A. Braun who founded GA Braun Inc. A lesser known Braun perhaps, but a very successful man just the same. Philip started Textile Marking Machine Co. Inc. I learned to know Philip because he was the senior pastor at my church. He was a generous man, one who lived his life to make others’ lives better. If Philip had an employee who passed away without any family, he would call a tailor friend he knew, have him make the employee a new suit and then arrange a funeral for the employee. Often, only Philip and his wife were the attendees. He tried to be as unassuming as he could. Never flaunting his wealth at all. I had the privilege of “working” for him as a junior in high school. My job was to run errands for him. Clearly, he was just trying to find work for me so I could earn a few dollars. His last act of selflessness was the purchase of land on Onondaga Hill, which he donated to our church for a new building that he would never see. You know, he would be very uncomfortable knowing that I shared this with you.
The last person I thought of is my hero: my dad. Thankfully he is still with us, and I know he wouldn’t want me to praise him, so that will have to wait. All these men lived lives of greatness. Their greatness wasn’t in what they received or earned in life. Their greatness was in what they gave to others. As I reflect on Joe Duncan’s quote, I see a great truth. As we live our life for others we find great joy and purpose, and that is the definition of greatness.