I have a question that I'd love for you to answer.
Try not to read ahead quite yet.
I want you to articulate your own answer to this.
What makes a person extraordinary?
Pause. Don't read on. Answer the question first.
Really think about it. Think about the people who you think are amazing or extraordinary.
What is it that makes up that extraordinary-ness?
What is your definition of a truly amazing human being?
I posted this question for my online students - and have been contemplating my own answer all week.
And what I found was there is actually a very simple 2-step concept that sets apart Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King. Oprah. Or any other amazing person that you know.
1. They know who they are.
2. They live the life they truly want to live.
I am shocked at how utterly simple and crazy-difficult it is to be an amazing human being.
Step Number One is a doozy of a step. I tried to avoid this step for years. I knew(ish) who everyone around me was ... and I thought that just might be enough.
Step Number One is intensely spiritual, soul-wrenching, life-opening work.
You can't rush it.
You don't really arrive at it. There are no "Know Yourself" flash cards or study guides. And you can't cheat off of someone else's test.
But at some point in your life you will be given the opportunity to find out who you truly are.
If you want to be an amazing human being - you must take this class.
Again and again.
Until you know all the answers by heart.
Maybe it's just me, but there's something about getting a divorce, losing all your money and sitting in a little room alone for months-on-end that kinda bangs this lesson into your head. (Maybe your road was easier than this - but you're probably not an ultra-stubborn-red-head. Lucky you.)
So when you figure yourself out and finally know who the hell you are... awesome things start happening, right?
No angels come down to sing to you.
No waters part from the sea.
No double rainbows all the way.
Nope, now it's time to do the real work.
The work of going out and truly living the life you want to be living.
The work of your life.
And this doesn't mean "do whatever you want" in a reckless, passive or stupid way. It doesn't mean start boozin', sexin', druggin', spending money, living-like-a-rock-star-with-a-death-wish.
It means to deliberately go out and do the thing that you want to do.
That thing that you know you need to do.
It means to go take those pictures in Morocco. Or learn to sail.
It means to start that nonprofit.
Or to have that baby.
Or get that divorce.
It means to quit that job. And start to really tell the truth.
It means to do those things. Those things that seem so "un-amazing" that they almost seem scary. Or boring. Or risky.
Over and over again this week, I recognized areas of my life that I'm not *quite* living the life I truly want to live. Maybe I go to yoga a little less often than I want. Or drink a little too much on Friday night. Maybe I lose my cool and shout at someone I love. (Sorry.) Or get lost in my to-do list.
Step Number Two is a work in progress for me. But this idea has been an insightful tool. It a compass pointing true north. And it guides me toward my most-amazing-self-ness.
There are a lot of ordinary people out there.
There are people who refuse to learn themselves.
There are people who are afraid to live the life they want to live. (If you call that living.)
And there are too many people who will die without having made the brave step toward their own amazing-ness.
I know that you're not one of these people.
Get to know who you are.
And then do the fucking work to live that life.