Updated: Feb 22
Extraordinary - consistent willingness and effort to be better
Why is it that we are more likely to settle for an average life than to pursue excellence?
Why is it that we are more often than not swayed by the tendency to be ordinary?
While there is nothing wrong with being average or ordinary, these questions need to be asked through a lens of introspection and are not meant to be critical of anyone or their choices.
We live in a society where drinking every weekend is okay and expected of us, especially if we're from the West. I see this mindset permeate work environments, gyms, CrossFit boxes, online forums, you name it. Why is it that charity work, for example, isn't expected of us in the same way?
We live in a society, where a large number of men have the tendency to play out their egos by pursuing momentary distractions (I won't go into too much detail), as a way to increase their (perceived) self-worth. Why isn't it a norm for all men to be courteous, respectful, encouraging and fair, especially in how they treat women and other men?
We live in a society where instant gratification has created millions of obsessed individuals who are doing everything in their power to become rich and famous, often risking their physical, mental and psychological well-being. Why isn't it a norm for people to pursue academic, professional and more importantly spiritual excellence?
Is it because we don't want to be seen as ambitious or driven?
Is it because we have the tendency to choose what we think is the easiest option?
Could it be because we perceive peer pressure as an obstacle that is too difficult to overcome?
Or is it because we equate fun to drinking, spending, being overly sexualized and trying to be better than the people around us by 'living our best life'?
All of the above? Well, if that's the case, there's nothing wrong with admitting it. It's crucial to recognise patterns for what they truly are because the only way forward is to track all that we think, say and do. The likelihood is that the life you really want is in direct contradiction to the things you are doing right now.
And yet, every single day is an opportunity to identify one or more areas in which you are in a unique position to make a positive contribution. I define extraordinary as the pursuit of excellence which enables us to be an example in every interaction, transaction and more importantly, in our outlook on life. Extraordinary requires discipline, honesty and intention.
Extraordinary does not mean that you have to be the richest, but it does mean that you have to have the most abundant mindset. It does not mean that you have to be the most successful person in any given room, but it does mean that you have to actively look for ways to improve your standard and quality of life.
It is important to understand that you will most likely find yourself taking actions which no one else is willing to take, simply because you understand the repercussions of doing otherwise. Simply because you have a moral code and can distinguish between right and wrong. That is extraordinary.
Extraordinary also means that you remain 'hungry' for and open to opportunities. It means that you remain centred when you lack support, or when your peers aren't particularly enthusiastic about what you set out to achieve. It means putting in the effort but allowing things to take place at the right time; allowing opportunities to present themselves because you've ticked off all the prerequisites.
Each one of us has the ability to be extraordinary, and while there's nothing wrong with being ordinary, life is a precious gift and not living it to the fullest by pursuing positive change, excellence, and by being an example, is a shame. You're also more likely to regret conforming to established societal norms which often encourage carelessness in social, professional and personal dynamics. Do not be fooled by the gift you are given and allow yourself to think that you're entitled. You're not. In fact, no one is entitled to a good life, an established career, financial freedom etc. The life we live and the fruits we reap are in large part down to our outlook, thoughts, words and actions. There are of course circumstances which are beyond our control that can negatively impact the way we live our lives and can have detrimental effects on the quality of our day to day, but we cannot spend time analysing hypothetical situations when we should be focusing on what we can control.
To be extraordinary you first have to pinpoint the main pillars in your life.
Family, work, travel, fitness, mindfulness, friends, finances etc.
Write them down.
Next, identify one thing you'd like to work on in each pillar.
Do you need to improve your relationship with a family member? Pick up the phone and call.
Do you feel like you're not being the best you can be at work? Why? What can you do to change that dynamic?
Does travel inspire you? If so, identify one trip you'd like to make, budget for it and make it happen. Do you want to travel 4-5 times this year? Can you make it happen without putting pressure on your finances? Do it.
Are you taking time each day to improve your mindfulness? Are you meditating? Are you allocating time to spend in silence? If not, start now. Put everything away and sit in silence for five minutes.
How is your social circle? Are your friends helping you become the best version of yourself? If not, make the necessary changes, and make it a habit to interact with different people every couple of months. Do not be complacent. You need to be surrounded by people who are better than you. People who can help you tap into your infinite creativity.
How about your finances? Do you have any savings? If not, this is crucial and you have to start right now. Track each and every expense. Every time you're about to spend, ask yourself whether you really need to. Savings give you a cushion and afford you crucial breathing space which will be handy down the line.
Now all this may sound trivial, but if you want to be extraordinary, locking down all of the above is necessary.
Being ordinary is more than fine, and there are those who argue that being average and ordinary is better than seeking perfection. I would agree with this - perfection is extreme and not something that I encourage you to seek. Your journey can be messy at the start, in the middle and towards the end but you'll be remembered for what you leave behind. Again, being ordinary is just fine but if you have all the capabilities to do something unique, why would you choose not to?
1. Commit to an extra(ordinary) life
2. Understand your current patterns as this is a crucial step towards making changes
3. Ask yourself what the most important pillars in your life are
4. Focus on making one small change in each pillar, one change at a time