After reading a few recent interviews by hip hop star Kanye West... I've been thinking about this concept of greatness. West has been notoriously labelled an egomaniac and complete a-hole.
Admittedly some of his references to Christianity and the use of the God concept make me very uncomfortable. But I think there is something to be learned from the rest of his comments.
Kanye West is an accomplished musical artist with immense talent (although I’m not personally a fan of his latest album). He is one of the few people I have found who is willing to admit their own genius. I think that so many of us are capable of greatness... but the problem is... to be truly great comes with too many personal sacrifices many of us are not willing to take.
For example... honing your talent takes so much time spent alone that one runs the risk of isolating oneself from family and friends. Becoming great at whatever you do takes a lot of introspection and spending time in one's own head... that you run the risk of appearing aloof to others. You often appear as though you are not listening. And worst of all... if you have the audacity to acknowledge your greatness you run the risk of being labelled a complete a-hole. Does artistic greatness require an element of selfishness that is not socially acceptable?
And thus... is selfishness in some way defendable? Or maybe the artist in pursuit of greatness can only get there by sacrificing good relationships with people. I heard a quote once that “..some men aren’t meant to be happy... they’re meant to be great.”
But the thing is, most of us want to be happy and want to make those around us happy. So I wonder how many of us are right now.. as we speak... dimming our own talents in order to make those around us feel comfortable... and “happy”. We have been conditioned to downplay our achievements and to be self deprecating. I myself have been told in the past "tone it down a little" and maybe I would get along better with people. I find it an interesting conflict... that while ambition is admired... saying "I am great and I know it" is frowned upon. Speaking your mind is frowned upon... God forbid you offend somebody with your honesty... whether it be about others or about your own awesomeness.
If you know you have something special inside of you... are you an automatic a-hole if you are honest about your immense ability?
Speak on it. But first read excerpts from Kanye’s recent interviews here and and here.