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What I’ve learned about greatness – Daniel Flynn (Business Speaker)

What I’ve learned about greatness – Daniel Flynn (Business Speaker)

by ICMI on Thursday, 11 February 2016

Daniel Flynn is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Thankyou, a social enterprise he founded at 19 with then girlfriend (now wife) Justine, and best mate Jarryd. Existing 100% for impact, once the costs of producing incredible products are taken care of, every cent left funds life changing water solutions, health and sanitation training and projects, immediate food aid projects and long term food solutions. Daniel was named Victorian Young Achiever of the Year in 2013, Victorian Young Australian of the Year in 2014 and was a recipient in the 2014 Junior Chamber International 10 Young Outstanding People of The World program. Most recently he was awarded the Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Emerging Category) for the Southern Region. 

Here the Business Speaker shares what he’s learned about greatness through the highs and lows of his career.


What does greatness look like?

I’ve had the humbling opportunity to stand alongside some of the world’s best speakers and entertainers at hundreds of events and speak to tens of thousands of people. Millions more have read or heard my comments and thoughts through interviews in over 700 media features on the social enterprise, Thankyou, which I co-founded alongside my then girlfriend (now wife), Justine, and best mate, Jarryd.

The platform this provides, whilst amazing, has the potential to create an illusion. The illusion that I have it all together. Although the story I share is full of adversity and challenges from the start up years to today, it would appear to be different now that we’ve got momentum behind the organisation and are experiencing some level of success as an organisation.

Behind the scenes, this is the reality: not too long ago the stress of multiple situations occurring in one week, that individually would have been challenging, but together were overwhelming, had a very real, very physical manifestation. I know it’s not a pretty picture but try and imagine a six foot five inches tall, grown man writhing in what appeared to be stress cramps for a few hours with a few tears thrown into the mix.

The day prior to finding myself in the above state, I had been talking through each of the challenges with a mentor and shared how I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. His words to me as we ended our discussion were, “This is what greatness looks like; don’t forget it.”

I recalled that statement one week later as I found myself on a stage being named as one of the JCI 10 Young Outstanding Persons of the World. As I stood on that stage, I felt honoured, but also very vulnerable and keenly aware that greatness might appear as one thing, but in reality it is actually something very different.

Greatness isn’t the moments in lights – be they awards, successes or financial status. Greatness is forged in the process. The dark valleys walked, the mountains faced and conquered, the mistakes and failures, the tough decisions. It’s so easy to see the platform, awards and success and have a romanticised view of greatness.

But this is greatness:

Integrity – On the journey of greatness, there will be moments where you will be tempted to compromise, on either your values or direction. Being able to recognise those moments and act with integrity, holding on to that which you value and stay to the path you know you should be on, those are moments that forge greatness.

Excellence – Being excellent to me relates to not only high quality, well-executed tasks and projects, it means carrying that same quality across all things. The small things, the seemingly menial tasks, the ‘unseen’ moments, the jobs that you don’t love; as well as the fun, larger, enjoyable and more ‘seen’ projects. If you do what is ‘seen’ well, and that which is seemingly ‘unseen’ poorly, greatness can’t exist.

Learning – Greatness comes when you have the ability to learn from every situation and grow, becoming a different person who is better equipped for that moment and situation in the future. Greatness is crafted when a failure is taken as an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to beat up on yourself. Greatness is developed when you can see an area of struggle, recognise it and create an avenue for strengthening that area. ‘Seen’ greatness will often only come after moments of ‘unseen’ (or sometimes seen!) failure.

Passion – Passion will drive you to keep on keeping on when all hope seems lost. Passion will drive you to pursue excellence. Passion will light the way through dark valleys and power you up those seemingly insurmountable mountains. Passion is what will enable you to weather the storm no matter how hard it gets. Passion is what will motivate you to challenge the status quo, push the boundaries and reshape your world.

So what is greatness? I would define it as this: greatness is an accumulation of many seemingly insignificant moments. It is the ability to make good and sometimes tough and difficult choices that lead to the development of one’s character, capacity and capabilities, that result in a strong, passionate individual and groups of individuals who are prepared to pursue their dreams with everything they have.