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Be Extraordinary

December 30, 2013

Many will make resolutions this coming New Year. That’s a laudable goal, but resolutions don’t occur just for one day in the year – it’s a mindset and continual process. Grand goals require foundations, and doesn’t the thought of being extraordinary appeal? Let’s take a look.


The young boy sees a film and admires the protagonist, an able gentleman. He is filled with wonder. The teenager sees a very different film, and who is he admiring?

We all have role models. Some models are better than others. Some people stick to their role models.

I’ve seen pointless platitudes exchanged. Adoxography for trivial accomplishments. Doing ‘better than average’ is no cause for celebration. Your standards are not to simply be better than your peers. Your standards are not to meekly compliment trivialities or incompetence.

Do not compare yourself with your peers. Compare yourself with the best role models that exist – your role models. Compare yourself against truly extraordinary people and traits. Anything less and you settle too soon for complacence. Are you so arrogant as to believe you are as good as you should be?

I am a harsh critic of myself, because I know that it is possible to become like those figures that I admire and respect. If I lead an industrious, good existence. There was a girl at my school a few years back. Her name was Georgia Rose. She had a brilliance to her. She topped the state in history extension, was school captain, did a ton of extracurricular activities and volunteer work. So I compare myself to her, and tend to fall short.

I compare myself to the fictional character Professor Layton. I am not the perfect gentleman, nor do I adopt the altruism I should, things the Professor does. I compare myself to the fictional Jean-Luc Picard and wonder why I do not have his character, his fortitude and his meaningful life. Again, I may fall short.

But, we must try. If we wish to become these guiding figures in our lives and models for the future, if we wish to even hold a candle to these people and aspirations, we must try.

So, what is it to be extraordinary?

Many people conjure up an image of some mad scientist or person with a mind beyond measure. They have a brilliance about them. They then say ‘I can’t do that’ and never even attempt to improve themselves. This idea of trying is important – it’s what staves off insidious, fatalistic thoughts. Now, I think that this ‘brilliance’ can be learned – techniques to improve your memory retention, getting your priorities straight so that you’re focused on meaningful ends, surrounding yourself with the right materials and people. I’ve talked of determinism and the idea that other things and people shape our lives. And they do, but we have autonomy, we can steer our lives in certain directions. Now, some people may be more inclined to pursue this learned brilliance –they have a love of learning [1], they instinctively utilise good memory retention techniques etc. – but there’s clearly a autonomy behind it all! The image of a good intellect gone to waste exists for a reason.

Nevertheless, even if this idea of ‘breakthrough discovery’ or something similar can be achieved by all of us, I get that many people are still doubtful of that. Luckily, there’s no need to worry, because  being extraordinary covers so many other things. We consider Victor Frankenstein to have a laudable intellect, but he went wrong, and we might prefer Henry Clerval, and call him an extraordinary gentleman and friend.

You see, there are simple, fundamental ideas and principles that form the basis of much of what is extraordinary. Being a splendid cook, being a kind, good gentleman, not frittering away our time… to see all these principles in one person is extremely rare! To see a man like Henry Clerval is rare. When we see a person with these principles we call them extraordinary, because it is such an uncommon occurrence!

Now, living these principles is no easy task. It may take you a while to understand some of them, sometimes the specific idea is the work of years of disparate thoughts, and it’s always a continuing process. You probably recognise the principles when you hear them, but you don’t fully grasp and apply them as being meaningful to your life.

But the point is – anybody can live by these principles. They are not immensely challenging theoretical constructs, weights beyond our strength. None of the principles are beyond grasping and living by for anybody.

When kept at the forefront of our minds, any one of these principles is perfectly achievable and easily realised. Now ‘tis true that it may be difficult to live all these principles all the time – It is called extraordinary for a reason! – but we will become better for trying to be extraordinary, for the child is the father to the man, and what we do now will make the person we become.

And one day, we may just be extraordinary.


1 – Of course, this love of learning can also be cultivated and inspired both by oneself and others as the image of the Renaissance man shows. There is debate – this article may well parallel the environmental vs. genetic debate with regards to IQ.


From → Foundations

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