Are You Destined For Greatness?

DSC_0616“You know,” he said after a while, “it’s kids’ stuff, but I always thought my obituary would be in all the newspapers, that I’d have a story worth telling. I always had this secret suspicion that I was special.” –Augustus Waters, a dying teen in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars 

Hello friend,

I just this moment finished reading The Fault In Our Stars, the brilliant and heartbreaking novel by John Green. It is filled with beautiful, deeply insightful passages about our existence and our place in the universe. But, for some reason, the passage that I instantly went hunting back for upon finishing was the one I quoted above, with Augustus admitting to Hazel his “secret suspicion” that he was special, that he believed he was destined for greatness. Ever since I read that chapter in the book yesterday, I have not been able to get the idea out of my mind. The reason is as simple as it is awkward to admit to: I have the same secret suspicion about myself.

I do. I always have. Always. And, not surprisingly, I have not mentioned this to anyone in my lifetime. It seems too boastful, too self-aggrandizing, too potentially degrading to everyone else around me. But is it, really? I mean, it is really just admitting to a gut feeling I have always had—an intuition—not something I go around telling myself based on rational observation. I haven’t decided that I am better than anyone else, but rather I have “a secret suspicion,” as Augustus says, that something grand and noteworthy will become of my life, that I will be famous for something positive.   To put it simply, I feel destined for greatness.

When you carry something like that around with you your whole life—in complete silence about it, especially—it seems like you are the only one feeling it. While there is a certain power to it—you think at any moment you are going to stumble upon your big break and life will be forever changed—there is a loneliness, too. The famous people know each other—they rub elbows at the Oscar parties or the NATO Peace Summit or Nobel Prize ceremony—but where do those still awaiting their greatness meet? That is why it struck me so deeply when I read that line from Augustus. “Finally, a kindred spirit!” I thought. But then, “Wait a minute, he is about to die, so his suspicion was wrong. That means mine could be wrong, too. AND he is admitting it because he is dying, so maybe lots of people feel the same way and just don’t ever say it. Maybe everybody feels that way. Could it be?

This is difficult to wrap my mind around, having gone through life thinking I was the only one with this gut feeling that it was my fate to become a person of great influence (and that I was not supposed to advertise that ahead of time). But now enters this idea that most or all of us have this same intuition, this same tug from the Universe. That would be quite a trick played on us by the Divine (or the Devil?), a trick of psychological delusion to keep the masses pacified: each of us secretly thinking we alone are destined to stand out from the rest of the pack, nobody saying anything to anyone else for fear of seeming boastful or arrogant. It is the ultimate deception.

It is a bit deflating to me, I must admit, after a life of believing fame and influence were right around the corner. But, honestly, I have been lately wondering, “If this is really going to happen, Universe, then WHEN????” I am not getting any younger. Perhaps in the end I will pass on in quiet obscurity like almost everyone else, never making an impact beyond my beautiful-but-tiny sphere, my “secret suspicions” of the Great Fate finally revealing themselves to be mere delusions of grandeur. Of course, given the extreme expectations I have lived with all my life due to these intuitions, it would seem quite a disappointing way to go down. I will probably have a lot to make peace with.

So, are these gut feelings–that I am special and destined to do great things—a blessing or a curse? I suppose the answer to that depends somewhat on the course my journey takes from here. If it turns out that they are right—if I win a Nobel Prize or become President or cure cancer—then they will have served to buoy me in tough times and keep me on my course, always believing in the best possible outcome. In that case, yeah! If, however, I go quietly into the deep, dark night, then what? Then I would probably still argue that they were a blessing—buoying and keeping the course and the like—right up until the end, when the realization of eternal obscurity and unimportance hits home. Of course, then the mighty have a long way to fall and much to make peace with. Still, I would argue that that is a fair trade for a life lived with confidence and great expectations. I think I will press on upon my course toward greatness. The end will come eventually, with or without my certainty about it.

How about you? Do you have a secret suspicion that you are special, that you are destined for greatness? Get out your journal, and write about your expectations. How do you think your life will go? Will you be famous? Will you continue on the same trajectory that you are on now, or are you expecting a rollercoaster? How will you feel at the end of your days? How will you be remembered? Answer it both from your ego’s point-of-view and also straight from your gut. More than any post I have written to you so far, I would deeply appreciate a response from this one. I am truly baffled by this thought at the moment about how many of us have this secret suspicion that we are special, and I need some answers. I want to know: Are you destined for greatness?

Trust your heart,


5 thoughts on “Are You Destined For Greatness?

  1. Peggy Breedlove

    Oh, William; I love you. : D I smiled as I read your post, and thought about how brave you are to put yourself out there as fearlessly as you do. And I also love your conclusion that your gut feelings are a blessing either way, as they have gifted you with a lifetime of confidence and great expectations. I agree with that 100%. As for me; no, I have never even entertained the thought that I was destined for greatness. My suspicions about myself were along a different line. I have always secretly thought that I was put on this earth for the sole purpose of helping the animals. Any and every critter that has ever or will ever cross my path. I finally mentioned to Paul just last week that at the ripe old age of 55, it might just be time for me to do something about that, and so I will. I don’t know yet what, where or how, but the wheels are turning, so now it is just a matter of time.

    1. William Rutten Post author

      I like any response that starts out with “Oh, William; I love you.” Seriously, thank you so much for your honest response, both about the answer to my greatness question and also about your true purpose. If you are anything like me, just saying it out loud–or writing it out here for the world–made your intuition feel so much more right and true. I hope that you will give your feelings some legs; I would love to see the result. Thanks again for your support and your Truth. It is a beautiful thing.

  2. Ashlee

    Was it intentional and well thought out that all of your posts will blend in to one another and each one complimenting the next topic? Just curious. 🙂 I like when you write on topics such as this. Definitely the deeper dig. I TOO have always felt different and destined for greatness of some form…maybe not the mainstream fame most think of, but in some odd way. I do feel, however, that I have and continue to be my biggest obstacle in that achievement. Like you, I for years, was an introvert. Preferring my own mind to be my companion for entertainment over other sources the majority of the time. But something(s) kept happening over and over on my journey to future greatness and I couldn’t figure out why. Why wasn’t anything changing?! Unlike you, I would set New Year’s resolution (see, I do read all your posts) and I would, like many I imagine, come out of the gate at full charge. And then the fizzy, the reset, the replan, the do-over. That was my “habit.” I didn’t recognize that it was, since it sequenced itself over months rather than daily, but it was the habit for probably 10 years. Then, the year 2012. 2012 was the year I think something clicked and a lot had to do with starting to read books about success and successful people (and it was success in many forms…not just how people attribute succcessful due to business or wealth.) I learned I had to make daily habits to achieve the goals (like you said before), but I had to TAKE ACTION and quit making lists after lists after list. I had to take major steps to get to that next level. So in December 2012, I sat down, pulled out my laptop, fired up my Excel spreadsheet and started…another list 🙂 I’m a slow study, but this time I would leverage my list making talents. I listed my goals in column one, then WHY it was my goal in the next column, when I wanted to achieve it, and BINGO…what I needed to do DAILY to get there. The key piece was that last column. I also added another column of tracking where I was in that goal each month. And it wasn’t just one item, it was everything. My family, my job, my hobbies, my career goals, the full picture of me. A picture of my path to movement and change towards greatness. It made sense didn’t it?. I mean, why not push all at once to a better me. Why not map out and plan like we plan our budget for where we hope to be at the end of the year. In the end I had the overall perspective of who I wanted to be in one year and here it was, a fully mappable (mappable?? go with it…) and trackable path to getting me there. Back to you now, one thing I kept noticing is, my power of thought and planning continued strong daily, my powers to act fell off. The list kept me on point, reminding me over and over and over that I was “failing” my goals and it was becoming clear why. I had to understand that I am not going to, for example, rub elbows with people I hope to someday, when I am not exposing myself and my hopes to influence others even at a local level. How can someone want the new Oprah, when they do not sit and record videos of themselves even on Youtube or other avenues to impact the masses readily available. My tendency as an introvert had to be changed. It has been flipped now and that alone has made a world of difference. So a question back to you, how do we expect people to know or even understand our potential for greatness if they have never heard of us or met us? How did Hemmingway get noticed with his first book or even before (as I imagine its that pre-breakthrough journey that is the real story and answer to How? What characteristics do you think carried him through to success? Those are the details I look now. It is now the year 2014 and through continued reference back to my 2012 list, I now feel momentum growing. I am proud to say, I’m at about at 30 percent achievement of that list. Yes, only 30 percent, but here is why I am so happy about that, my habits are in place now. Those 30 percenters are daily things for me now. The personality and values I have held true to (and many times alone on) are now being looked at by others as a defining characteristics of me. They seperate me from others. The hours and hours I have spent on weekends or late nights are starting to show up in different areas. I was at a birthday celebration for a friend and a stranger came up to me. He said they had heard of my work from person X and wanted to see if we could meet for a lunch that week for business. He knew who I was, he knew what I stood for, he valued those unique characteristics and was seeking exactly those elements I have always felt were great inside me. It was hard to deal with for many years being “alone” for much of that journey, but I truly feel the momentum building and I need to now prepare for the next leg…better get my laptop and spreadsheet back out. Sorry for the novel of a response.

    1. William Rutten Post author

      That is wonderful stuff, Ashlee! What an amazing path you have taken toward this newfound runway that you seem to be accelerating upon at the moment. I love the depth of detail you went into with the multi-columned spreadsheet, ultimately arriving at actionable items, which I believe are so key to getting out of your head and into the world to make change. For me, starting Journal of You has helped bridge that gap, as now I get to be a tiny part of your beautiful journey, too, which is beyond gratifying to me. So, PLEASE, keep living your Truth and taking daily action, moving yourself beyond your 30% mark. I feel okay saying I am very, very proud of you. Thank you so much for sharing your story and allowing me to learn from you. It is a beautiful life!

  3. CJ Smith

    Yes, I do and always have felt destined for greatness – yet every leg of my journey so far has brought me tumbling down. Sometimes I become discouraged, and then I remember that all “great” stories involve hardships. After all, what is so great about a king starting a world-changing charity? On the other hand, a homeless person starting a care programme for other homeless people and gaining funding and publicity and one day turning that care programme into a full-scale charity and getting to meet the Queen of the UK because of his/her philanthropic endeavors…THAT is great. It is difficult to see our destinies unfolding when it seems we are walking backward. As for myself, I try to do one or two things each week that benefit others, and I am slowly but surely gaining respect and admiration amongst the people in my town. I am starting to see a way to accomplish what I feel destined for. This is where a kind of fear kicks in – am I arrogant? Will I really make it, or should I just put these feelings to rest? Am what I am doing truly for the benefit of others, or am I simply and pridefully trying to advance myself? Yet I feel this calling – something I have always seen myself doing. And only by facing and fighting these fears can I discover whether I can even cope with greatness and come away (or remain) authentic, genuine and truly great. Apologies for the long response – and for a late one, considering the year in which this was posted. But your post struck a chord within me, and I truly hope that you are finding your way to greatness. I would love to hear how you are doing.


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