Sorry, this article is all about being great has no relevance to the title. So I know that this sounds a bit like bait and switch but if you came here looking for vengeance then your shit out of luck. If you came to this looking for greatness then read on.

I want to be the best person I can be. That is a sentiment that we can pretty much all get on board with.

The problem is, that usually in order to be our ideal self we need an objective measure of just exactly that means.

For the most part we have no real clarity on what a fully self actualised person looks like. After all we are bombarded from all sorts of directions as to what “success” should look like.

From pop stars, movie stars and other celebrities to business moguls and spiritual leaders.

So how do we compare and how do we stack up? You see it’s a hard comparison.

Each of the groups often have quite different individual characteristics, so there is no real way to tell which area we need to improve.

Often we start to break down this idea by making individual goals for each area of our personal self.

They could be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, creativity etc.

Ok that may be a start, and for many people that works. Sometimes isolation of a particular area gives us clues.

But what if we wanted a more complete measure of what we think we should look like?

There have been people from history who have been held up as examples to us all. People like Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tsu from the spiritual realms. We also have the great military leaders like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Ghengis Khan. Hey lets not forget the creatives like Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart or Shakespeare. Or should we just go for the pure intellects like Newton, Einstein or Hawking.

See it is a tough ask to find one person who embodies everything.

For years I used to have an imaginary master mind group (I got the idea from Napoleon Hill’s book Think And Grow Rich) it contained many different people who I believed were the embodiment of a characteristic I thought that I needed in order to become successful.

(If you have not read TAGR then you certainly should. Many of the most successful of people site it as the singularly most important book they read when it comes to success. The thing is the internal mastermind group idea was the one idea from it that I found the most useful. Surprisingly, I have never met one other person who has ever used that idea… Go figure!)

Anyway I read countless biographies trying to find my guy, the person who I thought embodies all I want to be. Not one person stood out from the crowd, a few got close but each and every one fell short in some way.

Then I read “The Memoirs of Marcus Aurelius” and I found my guy!!!

By the way it was not Marcus Aurelius himself, great man though he may have been. It was one of the people in the book he described.

Have you seen the film Gladiator with Russell Crowe? I’m sure you have it is a great film. Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) puts an appearance at the start. He is the one killed by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).

The funny thing is that what most people don’t know is that Maximus was based on a real historical character. His story in the film is fictionalised but he really did live. And believe it or not he was my guy.

Not the film version but the version that Marcus Aurelius wrote about in his memoir.

Here is his description. Her is my model of what a self actualised human being looks like.

“Maximus set an example of self-mastery, steadiness of purpose, and good cheer that no circumstance, not even illness, could extinguish. He combined in beautiful measure gravity with charm, and he did whatever needed to be done without making a fuss. Everyone believed what he said was what he thought and that he never acted with an intention to do harm or give offense. Nothing surprised or frightened him, and he never seemed to be in a hurry or slow to accomplish a task.

He was neither intimidated and embarrassed on one hand, nor aggressive and suspicious on the other. So giving, forgiving, and loyal was he by nature that he appeared to be a man whose virtues were inborn rather than acquired. It is unimaginable that anyone ever felt inferior or superior around him, perhaps as a result of his pleasing sense of humour.”

Ever since I read that description I have my model for the person I am looking to be.

I now have my objective measure. I can compare myself to the above description and see where I live up to that description or where I am falling short. I can assess myself in each of the areas and make the adjustments and improvements as and when I am falling short. Now I have my measure.

Have you got a measure of what greatness looks like? If not maybe you should find one.

Maximus is my guy.

Who knows maybe he can be yours too.