Believe in Your Greatness

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In Houston after a federal judge tossed out his last legal effort to avoid being drafted into the army in 1967. (Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis)

The great boxer and activist Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) made himself the master of his own destiny.

Of his many eloquent and witty words, this phase is particularly telling:

I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

Though he was born with incredible athleticism, it was his will to be great that made him so.

He also ignored the rules meant to apply to black men born in the American South in the first half of last century.  He rejected Christianity for Islam, rejected the slave surname Clay for his chosen surname Ali, defied his government by refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, losing his heavyweight title in the process.  He defined the type of human he wanted to be and then lived as he wanted, defiantly.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me.

Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

Today, in recognition of his great life, choose to believe in your great potential to do good in the world.  Then go out and take a concrete step toward making that potential real.
Featured image: Photoreporters Inc/Rex