4 Subtle Signs Of Greatness That Cannot Be Faked

#3: Greatness that jumps ego barriers.

successful man in suit adjusting tie Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock

Greatness is my North Star in life.

Some might think that it has to do with ego and that I’m a narcissist who wants to appear great.

But that’s far from the truth. 

Greatness is my north star in life because I’ve had a heavy impact on my life because of some specific people’s greatness.

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  • I’ve been magnificently inspired by Kobe Bryant’s work ethic.
  • I had my hope restored after reading about how David Goggins found fuel in his f***ed up childhood traumas.
  • I was stunned and consequently, transformed by Steve Jobs’ self-belief.

These have in turn made me want to find, develop and experience my own greatness.

  • I want to be great because I want to experience the highest form of self.
  • I want to be great because I want to know what it’s like to have an outrageous belief in my abilities to do anything.
  • I want to be great because I want to inspire people to pursue their own greatness.

To that end, I study the abstract concept of greatness — obsessively. In this article, I want to discuss four signs of greatness that cannot be faked or developed overnight.

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Here are 4 subtle signs of greatness that cannot be faked:

1. Moving from consumption to contribution within a field

Whenever you enter a field, the first step is the consumption of knowledge because you’re starting from scratch and don’t know how to do anything.


And you continue this consumption for a long time because obviously, expertise doesn’t come so quickly.

However, as you keep increasing your greatness, there comes a point where you start contributing to the field itself!

A classic example would be a medical student who studies medicine for years and decades (consumption phase) — and then goes into research himself — and starts contributing to our evergrowing medical knowledge.

This is a clear sign of greatness.

But it doesn’t have to be so dramatic, tangible and macro-evident. Greatness can be evident on small scales as well.

For instance, when I started out as a writer, a lot of the insights I shared about life were not extremely unique or self-learned. I was learning from other people and regurgitating those insights in my own articles.


However, as I accumulated more experience and conscious growth as a writer, I slowly began sharing insights that got progressively more unique.

These days, I often share insights in my articles about thinking better and psychology that I know are not known to most people. I come up with these insights all by myself and I feel like I’m adding to this world’s giant pool of knowledge.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I have achieved utter greatness. But I will say that moving from consumption to contribution feels like a sure sign of greatness.

2. They’re one of the usual consultants

Every small city or county has a list of The Usual Suspects. The logic is simple. Whenever a crime occurs in the city, these are the people police believe to most likely be the offender.


Similarly, there also exist The Usual Consultants.

A Usual Consultant would be someone who everyone around them comes to when they have a specific problem or query in life.

Here’s an example:

We have a surgeon in our hospital whose greatness is extremely evident. He’s very young. But still, even the most senior surgeons of the hospital I work at including the Head of The Department often consult him when there’s a difficult case.

They even have him be present in the operation theatre while they’re operating just in case they run into problems they’re unable to solve.

This is a sign of undeniable greatness.

That’s because when many people go to the same person to solve a specific genre of problem, they’re collectively accepting his or her greatness.


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3. Greatness that jumps the ego barrier

Consider this.

If you’re being given the same life advice by two people:

  • One: Someone who’s older than you.
  • Second: Someone who’s younger than you.

Would you be receptive to both people in exactly the same way if all other factors are matched?

Nope. You are more likely to listen to the advice given by someone who’s older than someone who’s younger.

The logic is simple. There’s an invisible ego barrier that restricts you from receiving wisdom from people younger or at a lower social position than you.

But sometimes, someone’s greatness is so much that it jumps this barrier.


Consider the last example I gave.

The surgeon I talked about is very young and is in an entry-level hospital position as a surgeon. Even then, the senior surgeons and even the HOD of the department take his advice.

That’s greatness that has jumped ego barriers — an undeniable sign of greatness.

4. Greatness that overcomes distaste

We have a pediatrician in our college who’s disliked by almost everyone. I wouldn’t want to disclose his name here — so let’s call him John.

So, John’s a narcissistic alleged steroid-abusing bodybuilder whose self-absorption sickens most people.

One day, one of my roommates was in the Obstetric operation theatre during a c-section. John was there too. And something unfortunate happened.


As the surgeon pulled out the baby from the mother’s womb, the baby didn’t cry. His body had turned completely blue — due to a lack of oxygen. His heart wasn’t beating.

John carried the baby, rushed him to the baby corner, and intubated him within a matter of seconds. (Intubation is the insertion of a tube through a person’s windpipe in order to help them breathe when they can’t on their own.)

He then pushed shorts of adrenaline down the baby’s throat and successfully resuscitated him. The baby’s heart started beating again, and he began to turn red.

The baby was later taken to the Neonatal ICU where he recovered satisfactorily.


As my friend told me this story, he said, "Whatever we might think of him, he saved that baby’s life that day. It was awe-inspiring to see him depict such extraordinary skills in such a high-pressure situation."

My friend disliked him too. But John’s greatness overwhelmed that dislike. And my friend had to appreciate him for what he deserved.

The greatness that overcomes dislike and hate is no ordinary greatness.

Walk on the path to greatness — and look for signs along the way. That’s what I’m trying to do. And you should too. These are a few signs that you have achieved greatness that cannot be faked.

  • You’ve moved from consuming to contributing within a field.
  • You’re the usual consultant many people come to for advice in a specific field.
  • You have achieved greatness that jumps the barriers of ego. You’re asked for advice even by people older or in a higher social position than you.
  • You have achieved greatness that jumps the barriers of distaste. Even people who dislike you appreciate your greatness in specific fields.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.