Some people seek for Greatness, others have Greatness thrust upon them.

I do not know if someone has said this before, but suffice that there is at the very least some modicum of truth in the above assertion. If Germany had not declared war on its European neighbors, Winston Churchill probably is a footnote of history. The man who took on Germany and won with help from allies and in process achieved Greatness was voted out of office shortly after the end of the Second World War. The man who was a genius during wartime was considered unfit for peacetime. Germany thrust Greatness on Winston Churchill. Churchill seized the opportunity.

One path via which some wise persons have had Greatness thrust upon them and seized it is via the recognition that time and chance having linked them with some other talent, Greatness was within reach if they would be willing to play second fiddle in some dimension of a partnership. While these people may not have been seeking Greatness themselves, they recognized opportunity to attain to Greatness when opportunity was thrust on them.

Consider Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. Pippen was one of the best basketball players of his time, but was no Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan was in a class all by himself. He was not just good, he desired Greatness and developed the work ethic and skill sets required to achieve it. Jordan made his teammates want to play better. Without a Pippen willing to play second fiddle, however, as opposed to engaging in competition to be the face of the team or to prove equal ability, Jordan’s success on the basketball court would have undershot actual success achieved.

Karl Malone was the face of the Utah Jazz, the buzz of the media especially because everyone looked forward to the day when his talents would be the undoing of Michael Jordan. Stockton, his teammate played second fiddle to Karl Malone in so far as focus of the media was concerned. Stockton perhaps was more important to the success of the Utah Jazz than Karl Malone. Together even without a championship, Malone and Stockton attained to Greatness as one of the most productive Point Guard, Big Man combinations in Basketball history.

People who seize Greatness via willingness to play second fiddle in some dimension of a partnership are some of the most undersold successes of human existence.

It is not easy to agree to play second fiddle so two people can together achieve greater success than they would independently. If it were easy, everyone would do it and we would have less conflict in life.

Think Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Rationality and good management by their coach helped them stick together for a few years. With a couple of championships in the bag and the monkey off their back, the partnership broke down. Neither was prepared to play second fiddle to each other on the Basketball court. Perhaps they were both right. Perhaps they were both wrong. Regardless, both had to look for someone else to play second fiddle. Both won championships afterwards. In my opinion, neither attained to Greatness previously achieved subsequent to break up of their Lakers team.

In marriages many a times no one wants to play second fiddle. Playing second fiddle in marriage means being willing to focus more on giving than receiving at different points in time in the life of a marriage.

If spouses would be willing to play second fiddle to each other at different points in time in life, there definitely would be fewer divorces. If a husband would be willing to play second fiddle while his wife is nurturing a new born baby, or if a wife would be willing to play second fiddle while her husband is grappling with a new job there would be fewer divorces in life.

The question to ask is:

“Who is carrying the bigger burden at this point in time and in need of more support?”

If each partner in a marital relationship would honestly answer this question and be willing to play second fiddle to the other partner as necessary, resources will be shifted efficiently within marriage ensuring marriage remains happy no matter challenges that come a couple’s way. If one partner consistently places demands on their spouse and never is willing to downshift to allow the other partner some support, however, a marriage will inevitably end in divorce or ‘living together’ syndrome.

Willingness to play second fiddle in marriage at different points in time is one of the most important secrets of marital success. Without two unselfish people, however, it is a recipe for disaster especially if one spouse is unselfish and the other selfish.

No one can be first fiddle in every aspect of life. Recognizing dimensions of partnerships within which second fiddle, first fiddle, or equal fiddle are most appropriate makes successful happy living and Greatness easier to attain. We are birthed for Greatness. If we will seek for Greatness in the mundane or everyday things of life — family, work, recreation etc. — we prepare ourselves for Greatness in the extraordinary things of life.

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Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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