Those were the words of three time world champion heavyweight boxer, Muhammad Ali, who just passed away. I recall the reaction when he first claimed to be the greatest. Many thought of him as a braggart, someone who was full of himself; others guessed it was a marketing ploy. I will not judge his motives but I do believe his sincerity and how he lived by his words.
Is it wrong to declare yourself the greatest at anything? Does it mean that others are not as good as you, that you are better than them? Does it make you an egomaniac? Perhaps, but it depends on your motives.
Many people shun any claims of being the greatest. The best reason for not doing so would be that they don’t believe it, they feel unworthy. Those who have difficulty accepting criticism also feel discomfort with praise.
I lived with low self-esteem for many years. Keeping my head down and avoiding recognition was part of my protective shell. In reality, it was like a child holding their hand in front of their face and saying, “I can’t see you so you can’t see me.”
People are afraid of being judged and the feelings of seeming less than. How can you be the greatest when you feel and act like a victim? You can’t! When you come to accept that reality, a new course of action presents itself.
To repeat myself, you cannot be the greatest at anything if you feel and act like a victim.
Here are some of my former beliefs. They are only a few of the excuses that held me back in life.
Do you identify with any of those? As the old saying goes, “If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it is a duck.” If you feel and act like a victim, you are a victim. That is a term most would deny
How do you turn that around? You do it by moving from a fear-based life to a love-based one. In other words, avoiding all the negativity that weakens you such as anger, guilt, remorse, resentments, and worries about the future and replacing them with acceptance, gratitude, forgiveness, and understanding.
Yes, that sounds like a tall order. It was for me and it didn’t all happen overnight.
Begin with accepting yourself for who you are. You are the one and only. You can’t be anyone else as they are already taken. Regardless of how tough your life has been and the challenges you have faced, what have you learned because of it? What strengths have you developed and how are you now a better person through your ordeals? Your life journey is unique as are the choices you make.
Make the choice to understand your greatness. What is it about you that makes you the incredible creation you are?
Yes, you are and don’t allow anyone to tell you differently. I suffered many putdowns, insults and attacks when I was young but have let them all go. Realizing those people were acting out of the pain they lived with, they were reacting in the only way they knew how.
Count your blessings frequently. Feel good about who you are. I don’t suggest you tell anyone you are the greatest but definitely affirm it in your heart. Tell yourself that often.
Muhammad Ali was just a few months older than I am. His greatness did not just happen in the brutal sport of boxing. He was a man of principles who stood up for what he believed and truly cared about others.
Each of us, in our own way, is capable of greatness. Make it your decision to embrace yours.
“If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”