Becoming Extraordinary!

What makes a life extraordinary? Do you have to find a cure for cancer? End social conflict? Start a new company that will benefit millions? I suppose it depends upon who you are and what you wish to accomplish with your life. People like Richard Branson, Oprah Winnfrey or Elon Musk have made incredible changes in the world around us. Their net worth is certainly much higher than mine yet, they had the same or even less advantages in life than I have had. How are they different from me? Why am I not being driven in a Lincoln Towncar or jetting to meet friends at my private island in the Caribbean?

There’s a common thread in people who are leading extraordinary lives. They have, from an early age, declared that they ‘want something different’. They were not going to be satisfied with the status quo: theirs was going to be a different type of life than the examples around them. None of them knew where they were going to be twenty, ten or even one year down the road, but they were willing to try options that those around them didn’t or wouldn’t even consider trying.

Photo by Cade Prior on

From an early age extraordinary people, seek something different and are usually encouraged and supported in their efforts by someone significant in their lives, and a poor role model can motivate as much as a positive one. Most don’t possess a superior intellect, or go to the best schools. Most of them have what we would call an average life in average home with nothing to really differentiate them from their peers except for one thing: a rebel spirit.

Most of these people possess a nature that encourages them to go beyond what is expected of them. It may be a desire for more, a personal vision that goes beyond the usual opportunities that surround them. Extraordinary people are risk takers. Their rebellious souls aren’t content to follow in the shadow of parents or other role models. They want something different. They are the ones who strike out on their own and dance their own dance in life. What others think doesn’t bother them. They see many of the ‘rules of life’ as bullshit rules and refuse to follow them, and they don’t really care what others think about what they are doing. They follow the beat of their own drum and accept the inherent risks involved in this journey.

Dwyer Manufacturing

I don’t have to look far afield to see this in action, and to be honest it wasn’t until I started writing this article that I came to realize that my brother is just such a person. While I grew up being the ‘best little boy possible’, he began life a rebel. Pushing boundaries was part of his character as was pushing our parents patience to limit. They were just happy that he stayed in high school for four years even though he didn’t earn enough credits to graduate. He took to the skills that he enjoyed and continued to learn from his work experience until he had enough of working for others and struck out on his own. Today he runs a successful manufacturing business that employs eight to ten people, depending on the workload. In addition, he has a wonderful family and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to spoil his first grandchild. He broke out of the mold of those around him and followed his own path.

Becoming extraordinary doesn’t mean that one gains fame. It is setting one’s own boundaries and rules. It is saying I want something different in life. Most of us follow the well worn paths in life and don’t venture too far from the norms of conventionality. For others though, this is not enough. They say to themselves things like: I will do things in my own way; I will try new things and keep on moving myself forward; if I screw up, then I learn from it and try something else. And there is no guarantee that being extraordinary will ensure success as defined by most: monetary wealth. However, their wealth comes in a plethora of incredible life experiences, great relationships and an enjoyment of life. They don’t ‘retire’ but continually move forward to savour whatever life puts before them right until the end.

The Matrix

Extraordinary people don’t opt for the blue pill and go along following the rules. No, they take the red pill and open themselves up to possibilities. This doesn’t mean that only the rebel can be extraordinary. We all have that within us, but I think it takes more of an effort to learn to live a life with more risk, trials and change. For some of us it takes becoming so miserably uncomfortable in our ‘comfort zone’ that we have to make changes. I think for the rebel, it the excitement of the risk and the challenge; the carrot, if you will. For the rest of us it is often the stick: being so beaten up by the present situation that a move to unfamiliar situations becomes a better option. In the end, the choice to be extraordinary is up to me.

Well Done!

“The ability to accept responsibility is the measure of the individual.” – Roy L. Smith

Congratulations! You are part of a very small percentage of the population that is willing to dig into life and grow. You have decided to analyze where you are in life, what you want out of life and make the changes necessary to achieve that change. And you have realized that any change has to come from within.

Most people go through life trying to control people, places and things to get what they want. They praise themselves when things go well, and cast blame upon the environment, circumstances and the people around them when they don’t. Self improvement, personal growth or stepping out of their comfort zone is not part of their daily lives except as these work to boost their ego and social position. But the idea of an honest look at themselves, who they are and where they are in life, never crosses their mind.

If you’re doing the ‘work’ in a twelve step program, you know that it requires a daily commitment. You realize that no one else is responsible for your happiness in life other than you, yourself. By that same realization, you know that you must also accept that the unhappiness in your life is also your responsibility. And you know that the seeds of any change in your life must first be must be planted within and nurtured with patience before they blossom into results.

Excuses and blame are replaced by honesty. I used to feed my addiction because of the circumstances of my life, my relationships and my broken dreams. But when I honestly looked at who I was, I was able to see that I was the one who created the circumstances that I was in or I allowed myself to go in a direction I didn’t want to go. My relationships with others were faltering because I had expectations of what I should be getting and not what I could give. And my dreams were not realized because I wasn’t committed to them.

Accepting responsibility for everything: my successes and my failures, is really hard. It’s so much easier to point to others, my parents, spouse or boss, and say they are the reason I am the way I am. But now I know they’re not to blame. It’s what I did or didn’t do, accepted or didn’t accept, dreamed or didn’t dream that has created the circumstances I find myself in. And if I am to make any changes in my life, that too is a responsibility I must accept.

Probably ninety percent of the people in this world never get to this point in life, never even pick up the shovel. And here you are: digging, analyzing, finding solutions and making the changes to implement those solutions in your life. You’re doing the work. That’s big! It’s worthy of giving yourself a pat on the back. And the results you get out of all of this will inspire you to keep moving forward. Congratulations!