The Subtle Art Of Becoming Yourself
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The dictionary defines the word, ‘extraordinary’ as “very unusual or remarkable, exceptional. Beyond usual, ordinary, regular or established or customary.”
Despite the title of this post, being extraordinary is not actually a state of being, so to speak. It’s a state of doing. Again and again and again. It is from doing that you are able to be. Doing precedes being. It sounds trivial and simple enough, but this point is both fundamental and critical to understand.
Doing, that is, taking intentional action and repeating that/those action(s) is the basis of forming a habit. It is your habits, that is, the things you do again and again and again that will determine what you are extraordinary at.
To be extraordinary is to be consistent. As iterated above, the action is not taken once. Or twice. It is done again and again and again. Over and over and over for as long as you want to keep being ordinary at that act(ivity). To be extraordinary is to practice something or set of things all. The. Time. Not in the sense of every hour of every day, but frequently enough that it is an integral part of your life and, therefore, a lifestyle. The activity itself does not have to be long. It is not so much the amount of time and doing said activity per session, but the number of repetitions of that activity you do. Doing remarkable things isn’t what’s hard. It’s doing mundane, unremarkable things and continuing to do them over the long haul. Even when it feels hard. Even when it gets boring as all hell. Even when you don’t feel like doing it. Even when you’re overwhelmed and not sure of the payoff. Even when you don’t see the immediate results/benefits/profits. Even when you become discouraged from lack of progress or from the resistance/friction/opinions of other people (your family/friends/colleagues, etc.) It is this consistency that will pretty much guarantee extraordinariness. You cannot help but to become efficient and really good at doing something when you’ve done it so many times, having multiple, ongoing opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t, gradually improving and superseding your own milestones.
Of course, while straightforward and simple, being consistent is easier said than done. In reality, being consistent is actually fucking hard. If it were as easy to implement and practice as the concept is straightforward in theory, we would all be thriving at everything we like/want/need to do at every stage in life and there would be no real need for resources, blogs and websites like this built to help you improve and win at every aspect of your life. Consistency is a lifelong endeavor. It cannot be compared to a race of any sort; a sprint or a marathon, because even marathons eventually have a finish line even if they take much longer than sprints. Being extraordinary and building habits that lend you toward extraordinariness is not something you ever stop doing if you want to continue to be extraordinary. In fact, it’s actually a pretty good and practical illustration of marriage: till death do you part. So, following from that, because it requires consistency, being extraordinary is a lifestyle and a choice. Yes, choice. It is a lifestyle choice. And, frankly, it is entirely up to you to make that choice for yourself.
Being extraordinary does not equal being good or great at everything. Even if we often get the impression that that’s what it means, implies, or seems like. On the contrary, it actually means being great at a select number of things. That number is entirely up to you and what you fundamentally want for yourself and the person you want to become (read The Subtle Art of Becoming Yourself for more details on this). This is key because, oftentimes, we compare our own potential to be extraordinary to other people’s in a way that does not allow us to explore what field(s) or aspect(s) we are better suited to be great and, therefore, extraordinary in. If a fish compared their potential for extraordinariness against a bird’s ability to fly, they would always fail and come up short no matter how hard they tried or how consistent they were. Being aware of both your natural and acquired strengths, inclinations, and tendencies will allow you to build on them and take advantage of the things that comes easier to you than others so that you can be extraordinary at those things by practicing them consistently instead of pursuing things that you’re not really good/have a natural disadvantage at or don’t come that easily to you. This does not mean that you should not try out things that are challenging or out of your comfort zone, but it is important to note that being extraordinary should not be taxing. The book, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear explains this very well and I highly recommend reading it.
Being actively aware of your natural strengths and advantages will offer you the clarity to choose what you need (not just want) to be extraordinary at. And you do need to choose. This has to be an active choice. Not something passive. Because it is that intention and conscious decision that will drive you to create systems and build habits that will allow you to be consistent and integrate those habits and systems into your character and lifestyle. And, when you do choose, do not do it for anyone else. Not for your parents. Not for your kids. Not for your friends. Not for your pets. Not for your social circle. For. You. That’s it. As humans and mammals, we are social creatures and operate and thrive in groups and packs. No one exists in a vacuum (no matter how much of a lone wolf you think or feel you are). You will always do better with others who are like-minded. However, in this decision, you are your only consideration. Because it is your life, your effort, your time, and your energy that will be put into being extraordinary and you want to make sure that what you choose to be extraordinary at is worth your while. Otherwise, the likelihood of sticking with it and integrating it into your lifestyle will be fairly low and/or deeply unsatisfying. This is not to say that you cannot be inspired by the opinions, actions, and choices of others. We all are, to some extent, even when we feel our choices are solely our own. Again, we are influenced by everything and everyone we encounter to some extent, in some way, shape, or form. But, again, ultimately, the final decision should be yours alone. If you think this is selfish, ask yourself why and who exactly you expect to put you (and the person you want to ultimately become) first in your own life if you won’t. Listen, that responsibility is yours and yours alone. You are the only person in this world and in this life who has the capacity to know what makes you happy and what you need and are willing to do to get it.
Like we discussed above, being consistent is hard as hell, and we are social creatures by nature. It is wired into us and we would be fighting nature at its core in trying to do the opposite. So, again, use your natural and built-in tendencies to your advantage instead of fighting against them. The easiest way to be consistent long-term and as part of a lifestyle is to hold yourself accountable by having others hold you accountable. This is where having the like-minded allies, partners, and collaborators comes in. I have to reiterate this again; it is so unbelievably hard to be consistent alone. So, don’t go at it alone. Join and enlist the help of like-minded people who understand your position and share your mindset(s) and desire(s). You don’t get an invisible cookie or medal for achieving something “all by yourself”. Even if you get verbal praise for having accomplished something without any external help or assistance, it technically would not be true because you would have received help in some way, shape, or form from somebody else, even if it was not directly linked to what you were doing. For instance, if you wrote, edited and published a book all by yourself, that is definitely a hell of an endeavor and absolutely one worth commending. But the coffee you drank to stay focused while working, the keyboard you were typing on or the pen you were handwriting with, the notebook/Post-Its you were plotting on, the mug you drank that coffee from, the monitor through which your story came alive and the Internet that allowed for that story to be published to more people than you could meet in person at a time were all created/enhanced/improved by other people. So, you did, in fact, get help from others, even if you don’t immediately think so. And, the other aspect of it also is that, quite frankly, shared success truly tastes sweeter than lone success. There is a reason there’s the saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” It always feels better to have other people who are like-minded share in your success and allow you to share in theirs and even be a part of their journeys, decisions, and, life. The only thing better than being extraordinary is being extraordinary with other extraordinary people like you. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the best ways to ensure that you will continue to be extraordinary because you will be motivated to stay the course and that mindset of consistency and consequential extraordinariness will continue to be reinforced again and again and again. The book, “Atomic Habits” also tackles about this point in detail.
Some fantastic resources for having an accountability partner for whatever endeavor or venture you want to be extraordinary at are:
When you’re just starting out, remember, like any habit, it’s important to work on one thing at a time and build that habit first until it becomes integrated as part of your lifestyle before adding the next extraordinary habit. Ideally, when you do build concurrent habits, they should be complementary, not clash or interfere with one another. Based on the recommended Youniqorn Pairing guideline, building one habit that has to do with your external body should be paired with building one habit that has to do with your internal mind. For instance, if you want to exercise more, which is always highly recommended for everybody and certainly if you want to be wildly successful, but you also want to be a great or extraordinary dancer, you can make West Afropop dance, for example, your choice of exercise (which will be your external extraordinary habit) and pair it with any internal habit of the mind (drawing, music, architecture, writing, coding, copywriting, filmography, illustration, etc.). Here are a few examples to give you some idea of how to pair your habits:
Weightlifting(physical/external) and coding(mental/internal).