A gentle giant. What comes to mind upon hearing this phrase? Is it the British rock band of the 70s and 80s? For me, it is Don Williams. If you do not know this name, I will just assume that you are a millennial. This blog is not about becoming like him. It is not even about the rock band. This blog is about you and I becoming a giant. A gentle giant.
Giant – a being of superhuman size; massive, mighty, huge.
In normal usage, giant refers to physical attributes. However, for today, let it mean what is on the inside – knowledge, abilities and skills.
Do you know any multitalented person? Someone who can thrash you in math class, beat you on the running track and leave you astonished when they play a music instrument. Those people who are knowledgeable at almost everything there is and have the ability to explain it simple language. Such people are fascinating at the very least. They are giants. If you are one of them, kudos. There is also another type of people who might not have an array of skills and knowledge. Instead, they have mastered and perfected one craft, idea, instrument or skill. The kind of people who if you see them do what they do, you would be left with pure amazement. Such people are equally fascinating and if you are such a one, kudos to you too. You are a giant.
Becoming either of the two types is no small feat. Although people do and go through different things to reach such levels, a common cord containing the threads of determination, discipline and hard work seems to run through all their lives. In most cases, these threads are obscure from our view so we are only left in admiration, admiration of the results. However, it is not enough to simply admire such people – it is more fulfilling to be one. We all should be working to becoming a greater version of ourselves, a giant.
So what are you doing to become that giant? What do you spend hours working on? What ideas do you think about? What instrument are you learning to play? What skill do you want to perfect? What book are you reading? What craft are your hands busy with?
Remember, you do not need to have ten things on your list, one is enough. The objective here is to be in a continuous process of growth and development. To become someone at one thing, at least. To have a deep passion and invest your whole being into it. To know a craft, a language or hobby.
When you have found what this is and are becoming a giant, then the time is ripe to learn about gentleness.
Gentleness – the quality of being kind, tender or mild-mannered; softness of action or effect.
My favourite definition of gentles is this: strength under control. The perfect illustration is that of a big, muscular guy playfully wrestling with a toddler. The guy can easily crush the child but doesn’t, because he is gentle. His strength is under control. In our context, gentleness is a giant under control.
The facts of life are such that once you have any skill, have read just one book, can play tennis or cook a descent meal, you will meet thousands people who cannot do any of those things. When you do, be gentle. Be respectful of people who do not know what you do and who cannot do what has become second nature to you. Becoming a gentle giant is realising that acquiring all the knowledge there is in the world, being the best at all sports there are and having the musical skills of Beethoven does not make you more human than someone who cannot do any of those things. A gentle giant is one who recognises that for every piece of information they know, there is a billion other pieces that they will never know. A gentle giant is one who does not boast in their knowledge, skills or abilities. A gentle giant is one who reaches down, listens to and engages with those from whom he can rightfully demand respect. A gentle giant is kind, to everyone.
What shall we say then?
Start building the giant in you. Read, learn and practice something. And then when the giant is standing tall, remember to be gentle – have the tower of your knowledge, the authority of your skills and the variety of your abilities under control. May no one get crushed under the giant weight of your knowledge, abilities or skills. May no one feel less-human, useless, unwanted or hurt just because you know something they don’t. Instead, be a gentle giant.