As I meet with very successful people on a daily basis in my Executive Search business, I’ve often wondered if the things that make these people extraordinary was simply part of their DNA from birth or if they educated and trained themselves to greatness.
I do believe people are born with “natural gifts”. One can be a natural athlete or without a lot of extra effort, a great student. But I also believe there is a component of desire and passion that plays out in extraordinary people. In my opinion, it is that willingness to do what others don’t or won’t do that drives a skill to a new level.
I’ll share a personal story that may resonate. Quite frankly, I really dislike working out. I also know that in order to maintain my physical health and keep control of my weight, it is not a choice. But my schedule does not really allow a normal workout routine…I am simply too consumed with the huge number of things pulling at me everyday. So Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings I work out with a personal trainer at 4:00 am. Yes, that’s right 4:00 am. Frankly, I consider my willingness and dedication in this area to be extraordinary. I repeat to myself on these mornings when my alarm goes off at 3:30…extraordinary not ordinary…extraordinary not ordinary. I repeat this to remind myself why I do it and that I want my life to be extraordinary. And it works…it forces me to go.
I mentioned this at a staff meeting a couple of weeks back. I have several employees who do extraordinary things, including Jessica who is a marathoner. She shared with me last week that at Mile 17, she hit a serious wall. She was certain she was going to have to quit. Then she remembered the mantra, “extraordinary not ordinary, extraordinary not ordinary”…and she finished the race! I was so proud of her because she indeed proved that we all have extraordinary in us, we just sometimes need to pull it out.
Extraordinary does not just happen. It happens through tremendous effort resonated from within and those that live their life in this manner often share some common traits.
1) They are 100% committed and absolutely present with everything they put their mind to.
Extraordinary people give extraordinary effort. They stay late, they arrive early. They are completely engaged in the conversation. They practice over and over again. Pro athletes get this – it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at anything. They don’t settle for good – they strive for great.
2) They are constantly learning from those who have gone before them and read voraciously.
Ever attend a meeting with someone extraordinary? It is not by accident that they are the one in the room that everyone waits to hear their opinion. They are a student of their craft. They read constantly and seek out others who are better than they to learn from. They study best practices. They’ve learned not to reinvent the wheel, but to enhance the wheel to capitalize on their own skillset.
3) They exude energy and brilliance and garner respect for their knowledge.
Extraordinary people carry themselves in a different way than ordinary people. It’s not always ego but they have a different energy level and command respect when they enter a room. People want to be around them. People want to be like them – or at least as extraordinary as they are. Reality is that energy and respect comes from years of hard work and sacrifice. But we didn’t always notice them before they became extraordinary.
4) They mentor others the same way they were mentored themselves.
I have yet to meet an extraordinary person (and I’ve met many), who is not willing to share their hard earned knowledge. In fact, most are honored to be asked. They understand the road they traveled was a hard one and will share their best practices as those before them shared once with them.
5) They are extremely busy people.
Ever hear the saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”? There is a reason for that – they take action and get things done. They work full capacity and get more done than most humans are capable of. It’s the high school Valedictorian who is also the All Star Athlete that gets an “A” in Solo Ensemble. Or the successful business leader who runs a successful company while being extremely involved in their community while raising four kids. Somehow they’ve figured out how to balance it all.
So here’s my challenge to each of you who desire an extraordinary life. Pick at least one activity you will dedicate 10,000 hours to become proficient at. Remember it’s approximately five years.
Those extraordinary business people I spoke about in the beginning….they may have been born with some “lucky genes”, but their proficiency came over time with much blood, sweat and tears. Honing your career is no different than becoming a scratch golfer – it takes lots of extra effort and an extremely high level of patience. However, the rewards would be worth it, don’t you agree?
Authored by Employment Resource Group CEO Sharon Hulce