If you’re like me, I’m sure that you want to leave at least one magnum opus before you depart this world. You want to leave a masterpiece and leave a legacy. And, maybe you want to become Einstein, da Vinci and Bieber-famous?
You want people at your graveside singing eulogies of praise for the positive difference you made in the world.
The thing is that relatively soon after your funeral you’ll be forgotten and become a fraction of a footnote in the grand scheme of things.
If your intent is to become famous and make a difference, it’s an exercise in futility. If your intent is to fulfill your potential and do magnificent work, then that’s a different story altogether.
But there’s a disconnect between what the world sees as great work and what really is great work.
What’s your greatest work and whose to say you haven’t already done it? Some would say that it’s the book they wrote, the piece of art they created or the handy tool they invented. In my case, it feels like my one and only magnum opus is co-creating my daughter nearly 15 years ago. All my other ‘achievements’ pale into insignificance.
There’s not one great piece of work that defines our existence. I think that our journey comprises of many magna opera. We can argue that when Phaestis birthed Aristotle; when Perictione birthed Plato; when Caterina birthed da Vinci; when Mary birthed Jesus and when Aminah birthed Muhammad, it was their greatest works.
But that’s taking away from these mothers. They were more than incubators and and had other magna opera other than their sons. They never set out to have these ‘famous’ sons. It was more by luck than design (not their design, anyway) that they birthed these masterpieces.
I suppose it depends on what we define as great work? Is it a piece of art, a piece of industry, a piece of literature or a piece of music?
Or is the most significant magnum opus us? The human beings that we are. Are we the creator’s greatest work?
I like to believe so. I like to believe that we were forged in the image of our creator. And, therefore, our work is to do great works every day. Our creator never made junk; only magna opera.
I believe that every day we have an opportunity for many magna opera. Every time we interact with someone, it’s an opportunity to do a great work. Every time we are given a task, we can make it a masterpiece.
The enchanting part of this whole thing is that most of us are never even aware of the the impact we’ve had in helping everyone else produce their own magna opera.
If you’ve ever been kind to a stranger, loved someone, lifted up a child, soothed a sick one, let someone cry on your shoulder, given your ear to listen to someone in pain, held a hand, written something, painted something, composed something or mastered something then you created magna opera.
Of course, the real trick is to do great works all the time and never expect anything in return. Doing great works is not about quid pro quo but rather about pro bono. And, ultimately, we do everything for one reason – pro deus (For God). The only way we can thank the creator for letting us play on this planet for a while, is to create masterpieces every single day.
You probably don’t know of these souls, but all of them created their magna opera with a pro bono attitude.
Mentor, Angelo Dundee, Jochebed, Charles Freer Andrews, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Feng-Shan Ho, Welles Crowther and Rebecca-Jade.
- Mentor advisor to Odysseus and his son, Telemachus.
- Angelo Dundee, mentor to Muhammad Ali.
- Jochebed, Moses’s mother saved him from certain death.
- Charles Freer Andrews was a friend of Gandhi and convinced him to come back to India from South Africa.
- Leigh Anne Tuohy took in a homeless boy called Michael Oher who became a professional footballer (Gridiron).
- Feng-Shan Ho saved 2000 Jews from the Holocaust.
- Welles Crowther (24) saved a dozen people from the 911 tragedy in 2001, he didn’t make it out of the Twin Towers.
- Rebecca-Jade, daughter to Jacques de Villiers, saved him from himself.
You are the greatest work ever created. Now go and fulfil your destiny and release the magnum opera that sits in you. You do great works every day. You may never know how your work impacts others. But it does and that impacts all of us.
Go do great work because you are the creator’s ultimate magnum opus.
You’ve never been built to produce junk, you’ve been built to give of your all and create your best work, pro bono and with gratitude.
Go and do it now.