We can all name people who have achieved, created or done extraordinary things. These things often gain wealth, admiration or even a place in history.

We repeatedly look at these people as if they are super-human or as though the same rules of life do not apply to them. It is easy to see the gaping hole between you and their success and to assume that they must be lucky, born with something special or have a secret that we will never know.

How can we measure ‘extraordinary’? There is no numeric metric. There is no global scale or leader board that we are all made accountable to. Every person’s individual version of extraordinary is different; it’s all down to interpretation.

Both small and large acts can be extraordinary. For example, the small act of putting aside 10% of your salary as soon as you get paid each month is extraordinary, while climbing a mountain is also, undeniably , extraordinary.

Extraordinary achievements are often a product of thousands of smaller extraordinary moments, actions and decisions that have paved the way. Olympic champions do not just wake up one day and win gold medals; they make extraordinary decisions every day for years leading up to the event.

They dedicate time, energy and thought to perfecting their abilities. They may sacrifice many of the daily comforts and vices that everyone else basks in; such as late nights, TV and comfort foods. They make decisions and take extraordinary actions that will build the right foundations that will eventually lead to extraordinary opportunities and achievements.

These small, yet extraordinary actions or choices are far from super human and well within our capability. Often these are actions that we can take in every day situations and may not seem extraordinary at all at first.

The following are some examples that you can put in place now. They are simple building blocks to your ‘foundation’  (which most people will not do) on which you may eventually build something notably extraordinary. It is far from an exhaustive list – and you will probably already know the areas that will give you the biggest impact (6 hours of PlayStation anyone?) – but this will get you started and get your head in the right place:

  • Waking up early to exercise, learn or meditate before work
  • Continually learning, developing and investing in life long education
  • Giving up on smoking and deciding to drink in moderation (Or not at all!)
  • Research and choose the food and drink that you put into your body (quitting junk food)
  • Consistently arriving early to work in order to plan your day and prepare
  • Making time for of all of your relationships: family, friends and partners
  • Getting outside, going to the gym or swimming instead of sleeping in on the weekends
  • Constantly reading books that will help you and stretch boundaries
  • Replacing TV with networking events, classes or pursuit of interests in the evenings
  • Maintaining a clean and tidy living space (More here)
  • Managing your money and being frugal on unnecessary spending (living below your means)
  • Embracing creativity and sharing it with the world without fear of what people will think
  • Replacing your iTunes playlist for audio books on your commute to work
  • Living by a strong work ethic. Working hard and smart
  • Travel, explore and push beyond your comfort zone


Focus first on these small yet extraordinary actions that can be achieved today. Demand a higher standard of yourself. In time these actions will snowball and become habits or even part of who you are. People will start to look at you in a mixture of awe and confusion as they try to understand how someone can have such drive or the strength  to maintain such a life!! Some you will inspire, some will assume you were born with it and some will try to bring you down or discredit the effort. Either way, you have made an extraordinary positive change.

Everybody had to start somewhere:

To try to be the next billionaire or the next Richard Branson today is a challenge; the gaping hole between us seems impossible to bridge. But trying to be Richard Branson as he was when he took his first small steps is easy!

Take the next step relevant to where you are now. We are all at different stages of our own journey.

There will always be excuses and procrastination. It is your responsibility to make sure you follow through on the necessary steps. You can choose to start small, discipline yourself and make sacrifices, or you can choose to spend the rest of your life making excuses for why the gap is not possible for you to bridge.

NB: Do not let your age get in the way either; it is just a number. If you are old, you have the advantage of past life lessons.  If you are young you probably have the golden asset of time. Both require urgency however, not everyone will die of old age remember! Now is the time to start.

Step 1 – Sort out the basics:

Your health, mindset and self-discipline are core to being able to handle whatever obstacles or opportunities come your way while chasing the extraordinary.

Reduce your intake of any toxins and get regular exercise. If ‘extraordinary’ is the destination and your choices make up the road; then your body is the car taking you there. Make sure you are well maintained, have the latest Sat Nav and you use cleanest, most efficient fuel available to you.

The philosopher, Laozi, described the importance of the right mindset by saying: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny”.  Monitor and control what goes into your head like a parent who just let their child onto the Internet for the first time.

It is easy to rely on others to keep us on track, to kick us when we are lazy or to encourage us to keep going. But we can be our own worst enemies. We go soft on ourselves, make excuses for our own behavior and that little voice inside tells us ‘it is sensible to stay in bed and snooze a while’ or ‘I deserve to treat myself to these shoes’. You must learn to be strict. That voice inside is not ‘the real you’, it is just the voice of subconscious conditioning. Over time our habits and those of the people around us alter this voice. So if it can be conditioned for bad, over time, we can condition it for good. Train that little bastard like a naughty dog and don’t take any of his shit till he has something good to say.

Step 2 – Be clear on your personal values

You need to know who you are and what you want to achieve. What does extraordinary mean to you? Who do you want to become? What do you believe? What sort of life would you be proud to look back on and what would you do if money was not a concern? All of these questions will help to guide you and ensure that you are chasing the goals that will bring happiness and fulfillment.

Step 3 – Dream big

Think of all of the things that you would love to achieve in your life. Once you have an picture in your mind of what you want to achieve…dream bigger! Escalate those dreams one step further, don’t be held back by what seems possible now

Step 4 – Assign a deadline to each dream achievement

Congratulations! These are now your goals…

You must create a habit of making your ideas real. Dreaming is exciting and plays a large part, but doing will make them real. Making a deadline for your dream and each step leading there is the fist step towards bringing thoughts to life.

For every dream:  set a deadline, for every deadline: take action.

Step 5 – Break down your goals into steps

Working backwards from the final result; decide every step that would have to be completed in order to achieve the next level. Do not limit yourself or get overwhelmed, just write the facts. The steps at first will still seem wildly out of reach, but as they get smaller and closer to where you are now, they will seem more and more achievable until you have no excuse.

Step 7 – Take action. Take the first step

This could be as simple as committing to sending one relevant email or making one call every time you imagine something you would like to achieve.

Physics tells us that it takes greater force to put an object in motion than it does to keep it moving. The same applies here. You will be surprised how one small phone call, email or brave action can lead to a string of rapidly accelerating events that take you further than you could have hoped. Think. Act. Repeat.


Write out your goals (formerly your dreams) and write one action next to each that you could do right now to move you one step closer. Then do not let yourself do anything else until all of them have been done. This could be 3 emails, one call and a message to an old friend who ‘knows a guy…that knows a guy’.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Laozi

‘Extraordinary’ is simply any action or decision that the ordinary person would not do or make. It is the secret to success that everyone knows but will generally not apply; they will not go above and beyond. However, if you do, you will be one step closer to joining the truly extraordinary.

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