You Are Great

On the wall, just above my writing desk, there’s a dry erase board. In the past, I’ve used this dry erase board for reminders and notes about my novel, and also I’ve used it as a place to track the progress of my novel.

Now, not too long ago, I was reading a book written by someone who believed that the words “I am” held great potency. So, on a whim, I decided to erase what I had written on my dry erase board thus far and, in its place, I wrote the words: “I am.”

I left those two words there and didn’t really think about it for the next few days.

Then, one day–I forget what I was doing but–I suddenly looked up at the dry erase board and, lo and behold, someone had gone and written the words “GREAT” underneath the words “I am.”

I had no idea who had written the word, and I had no idea how long it had been there. (It could have been there weeks, really, because I still had someone reading my novel for feedback, and so I wasn’t using the board for tracking my novel’s progress at the time.)

After I saw the phrase “I am GREAT,” I smiled, thinking it must have been a visiting friend or family member who had sneaked into my room (while I wasn’t there) and had planted that word there.

So, I left the phrase there for a while, thinking that someone had wanted to secretly encourage me with it.

But then, after a few days, I was ready to erase the words and fill the board with some other notes. But after I wiped the board, I was surprised to find that the word “Great” didn’t disappear. The words “I am” had disappeared, but the word “Great” did not.

Once more, I tried to wipe the word “Great” away, but again, the word stayed. I tried removing it a third time, but still, it remained–in clean, clear, black marker: “GREAT.”

I tried using water and soap, rubbing the board as furiously as I could, but that didn’t work either.

It was now clear to me that whoever had written the word “GREAT” hadn’t used one of my dry erase markers, but had accidentally (or purposely?) used one of the permanent markers in a LGBT Stanford mug that I keep on my writing desk.

I realized, to my dismay, that no matter how hard I could try, the word “Great” was never going to leave my board.

It was going to remain there forever.

Finally, after a few days, I just accepted it.

I accepted the word “GREAT” and, once again, I added the words “I am” above it to complete the phrase: “I am GREAT.”

Today, I see these three words as a constant reminder to me that my life is meaningful, and that what I do with it matters.

You Are Great

Somewhere, on an invisible dry erase board that no one can see, there is your name and the word “great” attached to it. That word “GREAT” is written in permanent marker.

You may spend much of your time trying to erase that word. You may try to wipe it away with negative, self-defeating thoughts. You may try throwing nasty beliefs at it. You may throw past failures, disappointments, and bad experiences at that word to try to get rid of it. But no matter how hard you try to erase it, the word “GREAT” will stay there, staring at you, reminding you of the truth.

You can spit at that word. You can hurl your fists at it. You can pretend that the word isn’t there. But it is there, and it won’t ever go away.

We can be assured that no matter how much we try to put ourselves down, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we are the scum of the earth, we will remain great. (“Great” as in meaningful, purposeful, and influential.)

You are great.

Who you are and what you do matters.

Whether it’s writing a novel–or whether it’s following some other passion–or whether it’s just you being you–it all matters. In the grand scheme of things: it matters.

Sure, you can try to erase your greatness all you want, but that’ll never work. Because your greatness is written in permanent marker on an invisible dry erase board hanging over life’s writing desk at this very moment–and you can never truly escape it.

So don’t escape it. Accept that the word “Great” pertains to you and then write a big fat “I am” over it to seal the deal.

much love,


Today’s Courage Exercise

Write the phrase “I am GREAT” in permanent marker on a piece of paper and place it somewhere near your desk. Let these three words be a constant reminder that who you are and what you do matters in the grand scheme of things.

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28 comments on “You Are Great

  1. I loved this post. You words of inspiration and encouragement so well. I’m really looking forward to the novel you’re working on, by the way. I was thinking about it the other day when I was doing some research for a copywriting assignment on the so-called Mayan prediction of the end of the world.

    • Ollin says:

      Haha. The Mayans did not predict the end of the world: the most it could imply is that there will be a period of grand transformation. I actually think they got that one right. But really, I took a class in archeology in college and a LOT of it is based on interpretation. If you want to know what Mayans really think you need a time machine. Or you can talk to their descendants to see if they have some super secret prophecies they’re not telling us.

  2. Douglas R. says:

    Woah! This is definitely what I needed to hear. No doubt. Thank you for sharing this!


  3. I go to Courage 2 Create to get what I need. I always find it. I didn’t expect this today. It seems so simple. I am great? I am? I am. That in itself is powerful. I am GREAT? You kidding me? Well, you know what? I’m doing it. I am GREAT. Writing it down, visiting it as often as I need. Good one, Ollin. And congratulations to whoever sneaked in and wrote in permanent marker “GREAT.” Sometimes we have to be told. Thanks. -Dana

    • Ollin says:

      Yeah, that way I couldn’t escape it. It’s funny, I don’t think they meant to write it in permanent marker. But it ended up working out perfectly.

  4. Andrea Lewis says:

    Ollin, you are GREAT! I am GREAT!!!! I believe in the power of I AM and use it on a daily basis. I’ve learned that if I do not believe I am GREAT, then how can I expect others to believe I am Great etc.

  5. MarinaSofia says:

    Long live permanent markers! Wonderful story!

  6. I RB’d this post to my readers because it brought a smile to my face. Have a great day!

  7. You are great, Ollin! Thank you for this very inspiring post!

  8. Katrina Begg says:

    haha that’s great. I like to tell myself that I’m awesome.

  9. Yvette Carol says:

    Hi Ollin! Yes, I went to a spiritual women’s retreat once, and on the first night, we were told to tell ourselves out loud, “You are wonderful!” I made it part of my daily ritual and have said it to myself at least once a day ever since (that would be about 15 years now) 🙂 It works a treat.

  10. Nathan Payne says:

    This is a very fitting, and telling post. Thank you for sharing, it read like a great Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul book and I loved how the story played out. I could totally see you wiping away at that board, and then you went and turned it all into a metaphor for life in general. Awesome job man!

  11. l0ve0utl0ud says:

    Excellent post! I use Louise Hay’s ‘I can do it!’ calendar, which has an inspiring thought for each day of the year and really makes me look at life and situations differently. That is the thing keep on my desk, where I can see it every day.

  12. KJ says:

    Thank you! I needed this today.

  13. Hi Olin,

    At the risk of appearing to have missed the point: you can in fact remove the permanent marker by tracing or colouring over it in erasable marker and then wiping it off…

    I also value your encouraging words.


  14. […] You Are Great from Courage 2 Create Ollin reminds us of the power of our own words and to do what matters most. […]

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