Almost daily we can read or hear of someone who did something out of the norm … something we would view as ‘extraordinary’ in that they reacted spontaneously, took a risk and did something that is often beyond their own wildest imagine. Perhaps they saved a life by getting another out of a burning house … or broke some performance record on a field … or invented something that would impact the lives of millions.
I’m sure I’ve met some of these people although when working with them in my role of a business leadership coach, it seems that they often leave that version of themselves outside the office door. As they define and describe their personal goals in terms of what they want to achieve professionally they invariably have lofty visions of what they want to accomplish and the recognition that will advance their career and the related rewards. However, rather than support these ambitions with a similarly lofty approach to their work performance, they describe their attitude and efforts in a very ordinary way. Such as …
- I’m very dependable and reliable in that I work the hours expected, have never used a sick day and keep my head to the grindstone
- I know my job well and my boss knows she/he can rely on me to do it right and get it completed when expected.
- I can be counted on to put in extra time when requested as I am definitely a team player.
This is good and most companies dream of having 100% of their teams doing just this. This is what is expected, appreciated and ordinary … especially for those determined to keep our jobs. However, this rarely translates to standing out and being recognized for a difference that we, individually, bring to the work we do. That requires extraordinary effort being put forth by ordinary people.
In recent days I came upon an article written by Sandeep Kashyap that very effectively speaks to this. And the most encouraging aspect of his writing is the realization that extraordinary doesn’t require genius. It only requires that we, as ordinary people, put out the extra effort, little by little, until what we are doing and accomplishing is truly extraordinary. So simple right? Actually as Kashyap presents it, it is quite straight-forward. Here are the steps he identifies that can make the difference and move us toward our true goals:
- Find your extraordinariness
This means finding a niche wherein our strengths outnumber our weaknesses … one that excites and scares us at the same time. We all have what it takes to be extraordinary and bringing that out will take everything we’ve got. If struggling, ask yourself how an extraordinary leader would have handled the situation. You don’t have to do extraordinary things to be extraordinary. Just do ordinary things extraordinarily.
- Set ridiculously high standards
Most people underestimate what they can do. Thus we settle for something mediocre, average or ordinary. Factually however, we are capable of accomplishing a lot more than we think and such underestimation of our potential gets in the way of becoming extraordinary. To overcome this, set insanely high standards which in turn, will propel you to be your best and push yourself harder. And in doing so, even if you fail you will fail above everyone else’s success.
- Stretch your comfort zone
Going from ordinary to extraordinary can be uncomfortable … even painful. And yet making this movement successfully requires a willingness to push ourselves into the land of the unknown. Those of us determined to perform at this level accept the discomfort as a price for achieving the goals we have set for ourselves.
- Visualize your future
The one ingredient that is a must is our 100% conviction to become extraordinary. To the extent that we can visualize such we have won half of the battle. Be relentless, stubborn and obsessed. Anyone can become extraordinary — both in personal and professional lives. It just comes down to asking yourself this simple question: What would an extraordinary business professional, leader, teacher, father or whatever you aspire to become do today? Then go and do it the extraordinary way.
Does it seem difficult or unachievable? I think not for I often meet people who have the vision and the goals. That’s a good beginning. Silencing the external and internal voices that tell us that we can’t achieve this is critical. And making it happen just requires the added action steps that will move us from good to great … from ordinary to extraordinary. It’s our individual and personal choice and being that we are all just ordinary people, how exciting to realize that we can go sky-high just because we made up our mind to do so and are willing to put in that extra effort. What a great way to begin the year!!