-An ordinary life is one that fits other people.
Most people would consider that astronaut Scott Kelly lives an extraordinary life. He commanded the International Space Station and set the record for the most accumulated number of days spent in space by an American astronaut.
Scott said that aside from the incredible views and floating around, the best part of being in space was the challenge of working and being successful at something extremely complicated and risky.
As impressive as it sounds, I wouldn’t want Kelly’s life. I need to have my feet on the ground.
Last week, I met Tommy, the oldest cowboy wrangler working at a dude ranch where I was vacationing. He loves ranch work and is going strong in his mid-eighties. When Tommy was diagnosed with cancer years ago, he arranged to have his radiation treatments at 5 am every morning so he could be back at the ranch by 6 am to take care of the horses.
As committed and passionate Tommy is about ranch life, I wouldn’t want to be a wrangler either. Too much dirt and dust.
Being a coach and helping people emerge their potential is an extraordinary life for me. Every day it gets more exceptional as I meet and succeed at new challenges. Even though I love assisting others in realizing their dreams, I’m sure Scott and Tommy wouldn’t want my life.
Extraordinary is personal.
What makes a life or career remarkable instead of “normal”? Finding that sweet spot of natural intelligence, reward and meaning unique to you.
No one is exactly like you. You are as individual as your DNA and your experiences. If you look for how your family, friends, mentors, social media influencers or anyone else defines an extraordinary life, you will chase other people’s ideas that won’t be fulfilling.
To find what is extraordinary for you, you must trust taking an “inside” journey. With reflection plus committed action on who you are, life will become more exhilarating and you will be more energized. You will have a steady stream of enthusiasm when you operate from the optimum combination of your natural intelligence, reward and meaning.
Natural intelligence: Think back to what particular abilities, talents and traits required little effort when you were a child and during your school years. Become aware of common themes. Review the eight types of intelligence and how they manifest in this psychologist-reviewed article to have a better understanding of what is natural for you and how to use it.
Meaning: The best way to pinpoint what ideas, causes or activities are important to you is to think about what you easily commit to, no matter how challenging. Typically, it can be anything that motivates you from the inside out. No one needs to convince you that it’s essential. Describe the value this idea, cause or activity holds for you. It could be achievement, justice, kindness, learning, community, relationships, wellbeing, education or spirituality.
Reward: What “payment” do you need to feel happy in your career or life? Most people consider rewards to be financial. However, you want to be sure the reward is worth what you must do to obtain it. Tommy, the cowboy wrangler, told me his brother, who has a high-profile, high-paying corporate job, is miserable. When Tommy asks why he doesn’t leave the job, his brother says he can’t give up the lifestyle the money has provided him over the years.
Depending on your life stage, building, broadening or coasting, money may not always be the main reward. It’s vital at any stage to identify what kind of lifestyle you want and research how much it will cost to maintain it. Beyond that, try to figure out the essence of the reward you want to work for. Is it financial security, freedom, power, belonging or fun?
Ultimately, at the end of each day, we want to feel great about how we spend our time. We must be honest about what we’re good at, what’s meaningful and how we want to benefit.
Uncovering an authentically extraordinary life takes self-leadership. Lead yourself towards the truth of what is compelling for you so that no matter the obstacles, you will persist. A career and life that’s a good fit isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity to be a balanced and productive member of society.
You wouldn’t want to walk around wearing pants that are too tight, too short or too long? Why should your career or life be the same? Find what feels satisfying yet challenging enough to keep you pushing the boundaries of your potential every day.
That’s an extraordinary life that everyone can have.
Work Your Authentic Genius.
Schedule some “think” time on your calendar to answer the following questions. If you get stuck, you won’t have to worry. Try sitting on the questions for a while. You can reap surprising results when you let things go unanswered without pressure.
- What kind of career or life is possible as you explore natural intelligence, meaning and reward? What could you tweak, change or revamp that would take you more in alignment in these three areas?
- What beliefs, obligations or outside influences could get in the way of following through on what’s extraordinary for you? How can you overcome these potential obstacles by being prepared ahead of time?
- What would make success easier for you? What new behaviors or habits do you need to create? How can you measure your progress to ensure you moving in the right direction before it’s too late?
Thanks for reading. Stay authentic. It matters.
Til next week…
Jo-Aynne Von Born, Leadership/Executive Coach
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