How to Live an Extraordinary Life!

The dash on the headstones look the same yet all carry a story.  Is your story the one that you want told?

I was having dinner with Alex Gorsky before Alex was Alex!  There were a bunch of Managers with our wives and Alex was VP of Marketing at the time.  What struck me during that dinner is that we all had the same challenges.  Work-life balance, working spouses, children in schools, and other normal challenges.

Fast forward 20 years and both of us are CEOs.  Alex runs J&J, an $82 Billion behemoth, while I run CoachtoAchieve a small boutique training company. I  think the world of Alex, but I would never want to be him, and he would say the same about me.

Extraordinary as defined by Webster – beyond what is usual, regular, or customary – highly exceptional. 

I do not know that anyone gets up and says I am living an extraordinary life. Are you living the life you want to live?  I suggest that you define what success means for you, create a plan of how you want to live life and leverage your natural talents.


Define Success –

Recently I was at a funeral for a close family member.   He was a small business owner, father, and grandfather.   His daughters and grandkids doted on him and he had a special way with connecting with young people.   He was a mentor to many young and old.  Spending time and hanging out with family was particularly important to him.

Define what success means to you.  We let society define what success means and many of us come up short when we compare ourselves to that definition.  Success can be running a billion-dollar company, being a great parent or just living life on your terms. Some would define it as finding and living your purpose in life. Leaving an enduring legacy of having made a difference in the world. Only you can define what success means for you.  Spend some time thinking about what success means to you.

Create a Plan-

Over the years as a sales manager I have been involved with developing strategic business plans.  People create them kicking and screaming and very few looks at the plan until the next year. Fewer will create a personal plan for themselves; it is a difficult task. Journaling is a useful to build out yearly goals and develop plans.   It’s not as formal and you can just write.

I go on an annual fishing trip with family and friends.   This trip is a chance to have time to ponder life.   Each year we discuss our goals, dreams, and aspirations often getting advice and support from each other.  This trip has helped crystalize steps needed to accomplish my goals.

The Philadelphia 76er’s would often say follow the process.   Everything will come in time.   The process,” emphasizes preparation and hard work over outcomes.  Do enough of the right things will reap just rewards. It’s the step-by-step action plan for your goals.  I have found that there process on everything to include cooking, playing sports, teaching, and almost all doings in life.

When I was younger, my father would say low down; don’t be in rush.   I understand what he means now.   Stop enjoy the ride and smell the roses.  We spend so much time trying to get to the next goal post that we miss the ride.   Life is a journey and not a destination. Look for how you are moving towards your life goals.   Without this process, it will be difficult to enjoy the wins, accomplishments, and achievements.

Whether it be a trip or a formalized planning session here are some things to think about as you create a plan to reach your goals.

  • What are your values? – Do a personal values exercise; it will help determine how to focus your time on what’s important. Are you living a life aligned with your values?
  • How would you rate your life? – Understanding where you are can help move you forward.   Think about your current state of living. Consider health, career, relationships, finances, spirituality, and emotional well-being.
  • What makes you happy? – Think and focus on what you enjoy most.  Think about the things that are going well and good in your life. Include your activities, people, and situations that are bringing you joy and laughter.

Leverage your Natural Talents –

On Designated survivor, the President played by Kiefer Sutherland, is told by a former President that he is so damn academic, but he sees greatness in him.   This is much like our strengths where at time they get in the way, but if used properly we can achieve greatness.  Here are some things to think about when leveraging your strengths:

  • Know your talents – Every individual has their own unique gifts given from above. It is you who should be the one to distinguish that talent or strengths of yours, no one else but you. So how do you identify these unique gifts of yours?
  • What are your drains? – There are some instances that can drain your energy and happiness. Determine what causes you stress. Is it people, behaviors, choices, or situations? Sometimes it’s the stuff you had to do.
  • Know yourself – It is important for every being to know themselves.  Exercise some self-awareness.   Determine your personality and general outlook on life.   What are the things that you do were you lose yourself completely?
  • Ask a friend – Involve your trusted and true friend during this phase.  Your friend must be with you for such a long time, in this case, they know you better.  They can pinpoint what your strengths are or what you are good at.
  • Find clues in your attempts and failures – Failing is not bad.   When we try and fail, it is a good lesson that we should try again. Failure is a foundational piece of building long term success in any pursuit.  It always comes first before our success.  If we don’t fail at all, we never did try.
  • Maintain a hold on your Identity – Knowing yourself is paramount to leverage those strengths to experience future success.  Be yourself and you will learn to love everything in you.

With COVID-19 many people have time on there hands to ponder what happens moving forward.   Are you missing time with family and friends or made the opportunity to be more connected?  Do you want to create a plan that allows you to live a more fulfilled?  Make the story behind the dash special!