What a difference a preposition makes
“Behind every great man is a great woman”
We hear that statement (or some variant: “Behind every successful man is a woman”) so often, particularly in politics. It’s so popular that with the rise of successful women in business and politics we hear the gender role reversal: Behind every great woman is a great man. Regardless of the gender roles, the statement has an underlying tone that the spouse of a great/successful person is hidden “behind” the successful person.
Maybe we see the significant other on the stage… Maybe the great wo/man is mentioned in an acceptance speech… Maybe in the memoirs…
The reality is that *Beside* every great wo/man is a great wo/man. It’s just a preposition, but this preposition swap accurately reflects the true spirit of this popular idiom. The spouse of a successful person stands besides them, not behind them. When they walked down the isle, they walked beside each other. No one individual was behind or in front of the other, and it’s the same in success and greatness.
When I achieve success in business or life, my wife is always beside me; not behind me. And I know that the same holds true for her. We’re on this adventure together. One of us certainly takes the lead depending on what obstacle is in front of us, but when we cross that finish line… When we achieve success, it’s beside one another.