The Greatness Factor: Do You Have It?

Do you possess attributes of greatness? I’m guessing that you do. I think it’s one of the reasons you read this blog and others with similar themes of self-improvement and personal development. We all want to learn to be better workers, to make smarter decisions, and to become better and more well-rounded human beings. Part of learning mastery in life is realizing our true potential. And with that, I ask another version of the greatness question: Do you ever know when you’re in the presence of greatness?

We know greatness when we see it unfold on television. Everyone applauds Sully Sullenberger when he leads his crew of passengers on board Airbus flight 1549 to a safe landing in the Hudson River. And we should applaud — this is greatness. We cheer when Captain Richard Phillips stands in the face of dangerous Somali pirates and survives. And we should. Phillips lives to tell about it and this is a moment of greatness and bravery.

We know it each time a head of state is elected. Regardless of our political preferences, we must conclude that these people didn’t get there overnight. And someone (perhaps a lot of someones) must have seen something extraordinary in them, because there they are. Did this greatness (hereby known as the “oomph factor”) emerge only when they ran for office? Or did it begin much earlier?

The Happiest, Most Passionate Waiter You Ever Saw

A Sonic Drive-In Restaurant sits down the road from my house. This bodes well for my wife and me when they give their drinks away for half-price every day. But it bodes well for another reason, too. They have an employee who skates his way around the parking lot each day with the most hustle, passion, and zeal I’ve ever seen. And I want to be clear on this: it is the most hustle, passion, and zeal that I’ve ever seen. Period. And as he was delivering my order last week, it dawned on me that I was sitting in the presence of greatness.

For all I know, this was an exceptionally good day for the Sonic employee, but I somehow don’t think so. His excitement is contagious (“You got it, boss!” – This guy called me “Boss.” Can’t help but like that.). And one might receive their order from this guy, with his nod and pointed finger – that pointed finger that says, “No, YOU da man!” – and wonder just what this guy might do elsewhere someday. Right now, he’s working his way through college, but one day he might just own the entire corporation. My guess is that he’ll own his own company, one way or the other. My bet is that it will likely be successful.

Your Own Personal Oomph. Yes, You Have One.

No one needs to tell you that you’re great. And if you’re out there thinking that you are, stop right this instant. No one needs a big head. If you know you were meant for more than what you’re doing, that’s more like it. The need to achieve mastery is one of our core needs as human beings, and we feel it when we’re in the presence of it.

Which leads us to another question: Do our colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends sense an “oomph factor” in us?

Are you committing everything you’ve got to what you’re doing right now? You may be working a job for a pay check, but I’m guessing there are elements of your creativity, your brain power, your likability, or other skill set that you could begin using your imagination to implement into that job to make it uniquely you.

It’s the ability to do your job in a way that no one else could possibly do it – with only your imagination, your spunk, your smile. This makes you indispensable. It may cause you to fall in love with your job more than ever. And it will most certainly become evident to those who work in your presence. And you’ll never have to say a word about it. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.

I’m guessing Mr. Sonic Car Hop isn’t head-over-heels in love with what he does for a living, but he has placed the oomph factor of who he is in it, and in so doing, he’s creating a name for himself among Sonic visitors, and that irreplaceability will follow him wherever he goes.

Oomph Isn’t Born. It’s Made.

No one is born great. People are born rich, poor, tall, short, well, and sick. They are born Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, South Africans, Russians, Greeks, and Australians. Some may even be born to great people. But none of them are born great.

Oomph happens when you decide to be the best version of you that you can be. It happens when you are open-minded, when you are teachable, and when you are decisive. It happens when you expect more of yourself and believe more in others. And when you’ve achieved it, there’s a good chance people will see it when they’re around you.

Bryan Thompson is a life development coach and co-founder of ElevationLife, a blog dedicated to helping people to dream big and to take massive action toward their goals. As a pastor for ten years, Bryan has helped many people pursue their passion. He lives with his wife and co-blogger Kristin and their three daughters in Springfield, MO.


  1. Dave Brough on the 5th October

    “Everyone applauds Sully Sullenberger when he leads his crew of passengers on board Airbus flight 1549 to a safe landing in the Hudson River. And we should applaud — this is greatness.”
    Sully Sullenberger ended up the creek without a paddle through his own sheer stupidity. He was rubbernecking the view of that river when he should have been watching where he was going. Not only that, he distracted the guy who was actually flying the airplane, which are not only violations of FAA regulations, they constitute ‘reckless endangerment’, which brings him into the criminal realm.
    To add injury to insult, he seized control of the aircraft; failed to declare an emergency; failed to use the emergency frequency; couldn’t remember his aircraft ID, said he was going one way, then went another, flew in the wrong direction (he could have made it safely to two airports); forgot to advise the people he was flying what was going on; forgot to hit the switch that closed off the outside openings; forgot that airplanes have flaps to slow them down; forgot that when you splash, you use the over-wing exits, not the doors – then forgot to close the doors; and when he was in the raft and pandemonium was going on, forgot to use his cell to call 911 and let them know what the heck was going on. But he did remember to call his wife.
    That was ‘greatness”?

    • Bryan Thompson on the 5th October

      Dave: For all purposes, this was really more of a side note and not the point itself. As for Mr. Sully, I wasn’t in the plane so I don’t know how heroic he was. But for the purposes of this post, I’m glad no one was hurt. If you were on the flight or knew someone who was, I’m sorry you had to endure it. At any rate, glad you’re here with us today and I’m grateful for the comment!

  2. thai on the 5th October

    That’s a great thought. The will to always achieve more is an open door to bigger ideas and wilder challenges. The will to always outpass yourself for others is to me the most efficient way to get the best out of yourselt (or at least that’s how it works for me). We (as freelancers, i guess) spend time admiring the Oomph factor in others, and being “jealous” of it. I think it has it’s upsides and downsides : one can get demotivated by seeing these people put their work out with such consistency, and thinking that the way there is too long, as wall as on the other hand, motivating us to get there and deliver the Oomph around us, just like Sonic boys. Our Oomph might be just a result we should extract from all the Oomphs around, no?

    Great read, but maybe a bit short? I could have kept reading a lot more of these inspiring stories!

    • Bryan Thompson on the 5th October

      Thai, I appreciate the comment. Like you, I think it’s important not to get carried away to the point where we become “jealous” of the Oomph in others. But my hope is that I’m always open enough to be aware of it when I sense it. It inspires me to give my best. You mentioned you expect the best from yourself in giving to others, and I think as long as you do that, you’ll never have to worry about the impression you give off. Thanks again!

  3. Jim on the 5th October

    Wow… someone’s been drinking the haterade. Yeah, I’m talking about you Dave.

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