Stop Aiming to Be Special & Live An Extraordinary Life | Blog


Stop Aiming to Be Special & Live An Extraordinary Life | Blog

“The further I wake into this life, the more I realize the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary.” —Mark Nepo

As we get ready to start a new year and a new decade, I've been reflecting on what I'm grateful for as well as what I am grateful to leave behind. In a recent conversation with a potential client, I was reminded of one thing I'm particularly grateful to leave behind: the pursuit of “special”. You see, I had special and special purpose linked to meaning and fulfillment. 

I thought to have an extraordinary life, or to do extraordinary work, you had to be special.

My search for special was robbing me of joy, fulfillment, and the extraordinary. I spent years, literally years, searching for my SPECIAL purpose—on the hunt for what I was supposed to do so I could make a big difference or have a big impact.

In that pursuit, I was often falling short, or so it appeared that way to me. I wasn't living BIG enough. Wasn't I meant for MORE? If you mentioned the word ordinary to me, I would get irritated. Somehow, I had ordinary confused with “settling” and that sounded awful. I was so eager to be better and do great work that I shunned everything that seemed ordinary.

One of the most powerful and life-changing insights I've had in this last decade, is realizing that while I was looking for special, or big, or greatness, I was actually depriving myself from experiencing my life, FULLY. Special and big were distracting me from experiencing the life I was currently living. They were keeping me from the extraordinary.

I see this in my clients as well. We are so achievement-oriented that we often surge right by the true value of what's in front of us because we think that accomplishing things or reaching a certain level will fulfill us, when it is EXPERIENCING life that will actually do so. We think being special or great leads to success & fulfillment but that might be the biggest myth of all.

I didn't understand that by experiencing my life, by seeing and appreciating what was in front of me, I would learn, grow, connect and experience more of the riches of life. I didn't understand that by letting go of the pursuit for special or great, I would actually experience more extraordinary moments and extraordinary opportunities would flourish from there.

Being on the hunt for special, for more, or for our purpose, orients us away from life and towards an idealized image of what “should” be. We search and search and miss what is right here, right now. We believe our internal chatter that where we are is not enough. That who we are, as-is, is not enough.

Yet when we stop pursuing special, those thoughts fall away. We begin to experience more of who we are and, in that knowing, we see what is truly extraordinary. Through the everyday journey of living out our lives, we discover the ordinary brilliance of life. 

It is ordinary for a flower to be beautiful. It is ordinary for the clouds and sun to create varied and beautiful sun rises and sunsets. It is ordinary for nature to present colors, shapes, sounds and landscapes that take our breath away. While ordinary, it is also extraordinary.

Just as it is ordinary for all of us to have insight, aha moments, shifts in understanding and new thought, it is also amazingly extraordinary. Or how about the depth of love and connection we all have the capacity to feel and experience? Or that still quiet place inside that is there for the waiting – beyond our busy minds. This is true for every human, not so special, but again – extraordinary.

By being present to our ordinary (yet profound) lives, rather than our ideas about what our lives should be, we see what is meant for us. We hear where to go. We connect with others. We live a richer & meaningful life. We see it. We feel it. This becomes new soil and bears new fruit.

This seemingly ordinary way of being in life is far from “settling” as I had once feared. This is living. It is living wholeheartedly. In the process of living, of being ordinary, we are closer to the deeper essence of life. When we move through life from this orientation, what we create is full of that richness and depth.

Our choices, our conversations, our work is shaped by this new experience of life. Where we come from, within ourselves, shapes every encounter and every action we take. When we SEE that the extraordinary resides in our innate nature, what is already there, we stop looking to be special.

Extraordinary occurs when we are IN our lives; when we see the profound in the simple and in the normal, when we have our own felt knowing of our deeper nature and intelligence.

In this coming year, experiment for yourself. BE ordinary! Live IN your life. SEE the promise of what is.

“When we stop pursuing special, we begin to experience more of who we are; in that knowing, we see what is truly extraordinary.”

“Go be ordinary and have an extraordinary life.” Sydney Banks

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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs & leaders access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of fulfillment in work and life. She is the founder of Beyond Limits in Business, a global platform and community designed to point people to the source of human potential. That potential resides within and is experienced via our minds. Barb is also the host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. You can follow Barb on Linkedin and Instagram. You can also subscribe to her weekly blog on her website at 



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