A Different Take on Being “Special”

Mitch Albom is a great writer. He developed his writing chops reporting on sports. As he gained fame, he appeared on ESPN. He has reached the eyes and ears of more by writing books which tell powerful stories that have become movies.

As a famous writer, he was asked to speak at his nephew’s high school graduation. He agreed. You can buy a copy of the speech on Amazon. I recommend it if you like those kinds of things.

In the speech, Albom encourages the graduates “not” to think of themselves as special. For me, it’s counterintuitive. I want my kids to be special. My marriage to stand out. The teams I’m on to be distinctive.

I believe God makes us each unique. Has a plan for me. Has given me special abilities to be employed in ways which leave an impact.

Nevertheless, I liked Albom’s approach on “special.”

He says:

“You’re not special.

If you were special, you would be better than the person next to you. And you are not.

If you were special, you would deserve more chances than the person across the street from you, and you do not.

Many of the world’s biggest problems come from people believing that they are special, which leads to superiority, which leads to separation, oppression, and worse.

So, do not think of yourself as special. Think of yourself as part of something special. Something magical. Something amazing. Humanity.”

As I reflect upon those thoughts, it occurs to me that it is a fine line. On one side we walk with confidence in what we bring to the game. With pride in how we serve. With satisfaction in what we have accomplished.

On the other, we walk humbly. Blessed by those who teach us. Blessed by those who trust us to be their supplier. Blessed by those who help us succeed. Blessed by the country where we are planted.

We have an air of specialness. The power is in appreciating the specialness to which we are attached.