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30 Surprisingly Difficult Ways to be Extraordinary

Life is simple, but living remarkably is not nearly as easy as all of the “5 Ways to be Successful” articles on the internet make it out to be. In fact, it’s quite hard and there is no guide you can follow, so you’re going to have to make your own.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that someone else’s success isn’t a good place to start learning. A remarkable life is hard, but it’s worth working for.

I spend most of every day thinking of more ways to step up my game and take things to another level. To this day, I’ve never come up with an easy way to do it. That’s okay because, if I did, it probably wouldn’t be very valuable anyway. No, to be remarkable means to take risks over and over again on difficult things that might not work. It means stepping outside the comfort zone that contains most people, and exposing yourself to danger.

So that’s what I try to do. I don’t always succeed; in fact I fail quite a lot. Yet, I’ve never been upset that I tried. Here are 30 ideas I’ve used, all with varying degrees of success. I hope that they can help you in your journey to lead your own remarkable life.

I don’t claim to be extraordinary myself. In fact, I’m pretty sure that doing so is an immediate disqualification. But, I can say that every day I try and hopefully get a little bit closer.


Leverage what you’re already good at…

Everyone is born with a unique set of talents. Take as much time as you need to figure out what yours are because they’re the most valuable tools you’ll have for the rest of your life.

Take pride in your abilities, and always use your powers for good instead of evil. Someday, you’ll be remembered for what you did with them.

…But fix what needs improving.

It’s common in today’s world to simply outsource your weaknesses to someone who’s better at them. That can be useful at times, but never take it for granted.

Endeavor to become better at the things that hold you back and never assign part of your life to someone when you don’t fully understand what they’re doing with it. You’re the one in charge, so make sure you get what you actually want.

Find what only you can give back.

At the intersection of all your talents, weaknesses, and perspectives on the world lies your ultimate gift to humanity – the unique thing that the world needs and you’re the only person on Earth that can give it.

If you devote your life to anything, let it be to finding this. It’s unlikely that you’ll regret it.

Build a few deep, lasting relationships…

You don’t need a lot of them to be happy, but a few incredibly close friends or relatives – people you can talk to about anything – will make life a lot easier and more enjoyable to get through.

When things are harder than ever before and you don’t know where to turn, these are the people that will keep your head on straight. Do everything you can to help them and you’ll get the same in return.

…But keep as many loose ties as possible.

It’s just as important to network with as many people as you possibly can. You can’t have 10,000 best friends, but in today’s digital world, 10,000 acquaintances that keep you motivated, tell you jokes, and help you with the odd problem you’re having are not that hard to come by.

Let people know how you can help them, and you’ll attract plenty of good company to make life just a little bit better.

Improve yourself every day…

Never take a great life for granted and never take a miserable one as a sign of defeat. Do something, anything, every single day to make yourself a little bit better than you were yesterday.

Read a book, sing a song, meet someone new, make something. Whatever you do, never stop working to learn more.

…And help someone else improve every day.

You don’t exist in a bubble, and your community, whatever that means to you, is only as strong as its weakest member.

Take the time, every single day, to help someone over a hurdle, to learn something new, or to do something meaningful. Not only will this improve their life, but it will improve yours and everyone’s around you.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Every person on the planet has their own agenda and you don’t stand a chance at getting anywhere with yours until you understand theirs.

When you feel like you have something to say, wait. Ask yourself if you’ve taken the time to hear what’s been said to you. By understanding others, you’ll be far better suited to help them understand you once it’s your turn.

Take credit when you do something great…

Unless you truly want to remain in obscurity, don’t be shy when you do something worth mentioning. If you create something amazing, stand up and claim it.

The temporary fear that comes from being in the spotlight will soon fade, and it’s nothing compared to the glory. You earned it, so don’t let it pass you by.

…And give credit where it’s due.

When someone else creates something amazing, be the first to tell the world who made it. If you build on someone else’s success, make it clear who made your work possible.

By giving praise to the people that have made what you do possible, you’ll get only respect back. The world has room for as many success stories as can be told. Always expand the pie.

Say you’re sorry when you screw up…

Nobody gets through life without making mistakes. If you’re lucky, you’ll only make a few big ones and many small ones.

When you screw up and it hurts someone else, say you’re sorry. And don’t just say it, actually mean it. Take a minute to understand the damage you’ve done and make sure you convey that you’ve taken it seriously.

…And learn how to forgive.

When someone has wronged you, learn how to let it go. Understand that very few people hurt each other on purpose and even fewer don’t regret it.

If someone apologizes to you, thank them for it and mean it. If they don’t, let it go and move on with your life. Nothing makes living more unbearable than the ongoing feelings of anger and resentment.

Get out and see the world…

Travel is fatal to xenophobia. The more you see of different people and different places, the more you realize we’re all the same.

Pick somewhere you’ve never been and make a plan to go there. Don’t think to hard about it. Don’t try to pick the perfect place. You’ll have more opportunities to go elsewhere once you get started and frequent flyer miles are abundant. If you need to save, then save. If you need to plan, then plan. But, by all means, go.

…But don’t stay gone too long.

Life-long travel is an excellent goal, but don’t forget your ties to home. As important as it is to learn of new people, places, and things, it’s just as important to foster your understanding of the place that created you.

Life is interesting because tiny differences can create completely different cultures. As you learn of new ones, try not to lose the one that others will also, someday, want to learn of.

Influence people to make the world better.

You have influence. It may be over just a few people or it may be over millions; only time will tell. Whether you want it or not, you’ve got it, and what you do with it will change the course of history forever.

Use your persuasive powers to make the world a better place to live for everyone. It takes the same amount of effort to do something good as it does to do something evil, so you may as well work to make things better.

Do something that scares you every day.

Life was not meant to be lived in completely safety. Do not hide under a rock when you’ve been called to stand up. Do something meaningful but uncomfortable with your time every single day.

If you’re not used to living like this, you won’t change overnight. However, you can make a huge step in the right direction by taking just a tiny one today. Find something that makes your heart beat just a little bit faster and go do it.

Clean up a mess that isn’t yours.

Not everyone will hold the same values that you do. Not everyone will work to make their own world a better place to live in. Some people will ignore their duty to others and some will actually try to make it worse.

You can’t change these people, but you can change the effect that their actions have. Picking up someone else’s mess never feels good, but living with it feels even worse. The next time you see a piece of trash (literally or figuratively), pick it up.

Stand up to authority.

Just because we’ve always done it this way doesn’t mean that we’re doing it right. It’s your responsibility to notice when something can be changed for the better and it’s also your responsibility to make it happen.

You’ll be met with fear, anger, and even violence from those that keep things working the way they always have. Don’t be deterred. The whole world is depending on you.

Take important things seriously…

Don’t screw around when it’s time to work. The only way to get where you want to be in life is to take what you do seriously and do it as often as possible.

If it matters to you, then it’s important. It doesn’t have to mean something to anyone else. Take what you do seriously, and people will notice.

…But laugh at them, too.

Take what you do very seriously, but never at the expense of having fun. Life is far too short to deprive yourself of enjoyment.

There’s no reason why you can’t take yourself seriously and have a lot of fun laughing, too. Relax a bit. Work your ass off, but make it a good time – not just for you, but for everyone around you, too.

Dress the best you can afford.

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but everyone does anyway. If you want to change that, you’ll need to start with a very good cover.

If you want people to pay attention to you, then dress well and speak like you know what you’re talking about.  There’s a reason we pay more attention to people in expensive clothes. It’s the easiest way to tell that someone cares about his or herself.

Once you’ve changed the world, then you can start wearing sweatpants and stop shaving. Until then, you’re going to need help getting attention.

Take a risk on something you’ll probably lose.

When you make the decision to do something remarkable, the odds are always stacked against you. There’s no way around it, so it’s best to just get used to it.

Don’t be afraid of this. The people who succeed the most in life usually fail the most, too. At the same time that Babe Ruth was setting baseball’s home run record, he was also setting the strikeout record. Nobody really cares about that, though. The idea is to slowly tip the scale towards success.

Cheat ethically.

Those that have won before you are the ones that made the rules. There’s no way for you to win unless you break them.

The rules that exist are designed so that you can’t win. That’s not unfair or wrong, that’s just how life is. Someday, when you win by breaking those rules, you’ll set up your own. Don’t be surprised when someone new decides to break them. This is the cycle of life.

Find gratitude for what you have…

Everything you’ve achieved in life is a gift. You were either born capable or born able to become capable.

Be thankful every day for what you have because tomorrow it could be gone. No matter how little you own, remember that there is always someone with less. Always make the best of your situation and find gratitude not just for the things you have, but the things you’ve achieved.

…But always strive for more.

Never give up your drive. Be grateful every day for what you have, but never let an accomplishment stop you from pursuing another.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, but it’s also meant to be worked for. Allowing yourself to be lazy is pleasing now, but in the long run you’ll pay for it. If you ever get the idea to try something new, try it. If you want to make something, make it. If you want to change something, change it. If you don’t, you’ll eventually regret it.

Win passionately…

When you win, celebrate. Give yourself the time and opportunity to be truly happy about what you’ve done.

Winning is hard work and you deserve to enjoy it when it happens. Spare no expense in time or money because you never know when you’ll get to again. Take pride in your achievement and show people how good it feels to be on top.

…And lose graciously.

Also remember that no one can stay on top forever. Every winner experiences a loss. Look at it as an opportunity to congratulate another winner.

If you won every time, winning would be meaningless. Your achievements wouldn’t matter because you’d have no competition. Be glad that you’re surrounded by other amazing people competing for the same goal. Be happy for them when they win. When you win again, it will actually matter.

Ignore your critics.

If you ever want to do anything interesting in your life, you’ll have to accept the unfortunate fact that some people will be upset about it. These will most likely be those that don’t lose graciously, set the rules that you’re breaking, and have fallen into laziness and like the way things already are.

Don’t pay attention to their heckling because if you do, eventually you’ll end up just like them.

Leave a legacy.

Spend your time working on something timeless. Create things that people can enjoy for eternity.

You will not be remembered for the things you consumed. Once you’re gone, all that remains of you are the things you created, the ideas you spread, and the way you made people feel. Make sure you’re building something meaningful that will last.

Don’t listen to me.

This is the most important piece of all, so don’t forget it.

You could have been any number of millions of things, but you were lucky enough to end up human. This means that you have the ability to think for yourself and make decisions based on your own experiences. Don’t waste that. It’s incredibly valuable.

How are you going to be extraordinary today?


Images by: nickwheeleroz