There is a difference between being a great man and being a good boy.
The gender reference isn’t important. The same can be said for great women. The point is to not go through the motions of trying to appear as if everything is okay, that you can behave, that you deserve atta-boys or atta-girls. People who have been unconditionally affirmed often get the wrong things affirmed and honed along the way. We need discipline, truth, and difficult conversations that confront and refine us.
When we are affirmed more for our behavior than our character, or people assume the two are always congruent and we refuse to let them see otherwise, people begin to see us as “good” people. We might grow up from being a good boy or girl to a good man or woman, but it’s very possible not much has changed. We still might be trying to please our parents, bosses, friends, and so on, even if there is internal inconsistency and betrayal.
Being great is much more than being good, but not more externally as much as internally. It’s as if the truth and goodness seeps into us and consumes who we become so that, while certainly not perfect, we are motivated by that character within in. Our behavior eventually reveals our character, whether it confirms or betrays what others thought of us.
Today is a good day to grow. Be humble. Listen well. Learn something. And change.