The first, and one of the most challenging but crucial strategies for bolstering a sense of vitality in our lives, is to believe that as individuals, we are extraordinary people capable of great things. That sentence may make you wince, but I believe it. You are an extraordinary person. You are capable of great things.
Your past doesn’t equal your future
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done so far (or what we haven’t done). School grades don’t matter, nor do all the times we’ve totally messed up and gotten things wrong. We’ve all had embarrassing failures; we have all missed opportunities, said the wrong thing, or let ourselves down. None of that alters the fact that we are capable of much more than we are allowing ourselves to believe. I mean that in all seriousness.
Most of us resist the idea that there’s anything very special about us. We think our achievements should speak for themselves and anything else is blowing our own trumpet.
As children many of us were taught that showing off is bad manners, and many of us have internalised that to mean that self-deprecation (at best) or outright hostility towards ourselves (at worst) is the decent thing to do. I am not advocating that you turn into a raving monster of egotism – nobody likes them, for good reason. But there’s a lot of room between believing we are average at life, or even bad, and running around demanding attention and praise like a two-year-old.
I’ve struggled with this concept in my life too. I’ve finally come to realise that it’s only me that I need to convince of my fabulousness. You are the same. Just focus on convincing yourself. Sadly, we are our own greatest enemies. In all honesty, we have nothing to prove to our friends on Facebook or our families or anyone else. I’m not asking you to get all “braggy” with other people, only to big yourself up to yourself. It’s called self belief.
And this is not based on the idea that only mega-achievement counts. You are extraordinary because everyone is! For me, extraordinary doesn’t mean ‘a person who will win the Nobel Prize for Physics’ or ‘a person who will become president of the board’. It means ‘someone who knows what their passions and values are and lives in accordance with them.’ That is not the preserve of geniuses. It’s available to every single one of us.
We can do great things. We can go way beyond the limits we’ve created for ourselves. The world is full of people little different from you or me who have done it. The only difference between them and anyone else is hard work and persistence, laced with self-belief.
You are talented – practice it
‘Ah, but what about talent?’, I imagine you might be thinking. ‘Some people are just more naturally gifted than others. We can’t all win Olympic gold.’ Well, yes and no. For starters, we don’t have to win Olympic gold in order to be extraordinary. And secondly, although innate ability is a factor in outstanding success, it is way smaller than most people believe, even in physical disciplines such as sport.
In his fantastic book, Bounce, Matthew Syed debunks the myth of talent and draws on scientific research to demonstrate that success comes via the power of practice. The book is filled with the stories of supposedly ‘talented’ people who are exceptional not because of natural-born brilliance, genetic make-up or social background, but due to the huge amount of time they have dedicated to mastering their discipline.
Talent is nurtured, not heaven sent, which means that it is open to us to be as talented as we are prepared to make ourselves. We just need to get used to the idea that we’re way more talented than we give ourselves credit for, and then we must practice whatever we want to excel in, be it the guitar, stand up comedy or business.
Your potential, your joy
Don’t cut yourself off from your potential, your joy. We all have the right to be extraordinary – it’s not just for geniuses. And don’t feel you need to do anything at all in order to be special. You already are!
ACTION: What are your thoughts on this blog? Load of rubbish or does it resonate with you? I’d love to hear your comments, either way. How about leaving them below?