Being Extraordinary

by Stephen Mills on August 12, 2009

mailman

Photo credit

Nothing can keep you from being extraordinary.  It’s totally up to you no matter what you do. Check out this blog article about an extraordinary dentist.  The blogger actually blogged about all the extraordinary things her dentist does.

In 2004, Mark Sanborn published The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.  In this book he tells the story of his mailman Fred.  Fred really cares about the people on his route.  He treats them special and becomes their friend.  He watches their homes while they are gone and goes the extra mile in everything he does all the way down to how he puts the mail in the mailbox.  He turns what many people would consider a mundane job into a job where he makes a difference in the lives of others.

“If Fred the Postman could bring extraordinary creativity and commitment to putting mail in a box, I can do as much or more to reinvent my work and rejuvenate my efforts.  He is proof that there are no insignificant or ordinary jobs when they’re performed by significant or extraordinary people.”  — Mark Sanborn

Eckhart Tolle is a big proponent of doing everything in a quality manner.  He takes it farther than anyone I have ever run encountered.

“Whatever you do, you will be doing extraordinarily well, because the doing itself becomes the focal point of your attention.  Your doing then becomes a channel through which consciousness enters this world.  This means there is quality in what you do, even in the most simple action, like turning the pages in the phone book or walking across the room.  The main purpose for turning the pages is to turn the pages; the secondary purpose is to find a phone number.  The main purpose for walking across the room is to walk across the room; the secondary purpose is to pick up a book at the other end, and the moment you pick up the book, that becomes your main purpose.”  — Eckhart Tolle

The passage quoted is part of a larger context about inner and outer purpose and cannot truly be appreciated without the larger context of his book.  It’s about being totally present in everything you do.

It sounds bizarre when you read it, but I truly think he is on to something.  I was reading his book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose on a weekend and that whole weekend I tried being totally present in everything I did, including the simple act of walking around the house.  I was shocked and amazed at how I felt.  By being in the moment, the extraordinary quality happens automatically.

It’s hard to describe how it feels to perform basic actions in such a quality manner and so you will just have to experience it for yourself.  Doing this requires no heroic effort and no special skills.  It requires only a change in attitude and habit.

These various sources and examples as well as my own experience, demonstrate very clearly to me that you don’t have to be in any particular job or circumstance to be extraordinary and make a difference in your world.  It’s not about your circumstances, it’s about you.  You no longer have any excuse not to be extraordinary.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaizan August 12, 2009 at 4:40 am

Hi Stephen,

I am a huge “New Earth” fan, so this post really resonated with me.

I believe that many of our worries and “problems” could be melted away if we could discipline ourselves to stay in the present moment.

I hadn’t really acknowledged the angle of using presence to ensure that everything you do is quality, but it makes sense and is very practical too.

Great post!
.-= Kaizan´s last blog ..What Do You Do If You Hate Monday Mornings? =-.

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Stephen Mills August 12, 2009 at 11:56 am

@Kaizan, thanks! Like I said in the article I was pretty amazed at the effect being totally present had on how I performed those basic tasks.

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Vin - NaturalBias August 12, 2009 at 7:58 am

I think the motivation to be extraordinary stems from passion, and as shown by the mailman, it doesn’t have to be based on something that will change the world. Simple passions are good too, and sometimes the most satisfying! After all, the responsibility of changing the world likely be quite stressful. 😉
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..The Dark Side of Healthy Living =-.

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Stephen Mills August 12, 2009 at 11:57 am

@Vin, you are right about changing the world and stress 🙂 I was there when I was younger. The way I think about it is that if you have to do something, you will enjoy it a lot more if you get into it and do a good job as opposed to half-assing it and complaining the whole time.

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Free Life Believer August 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

I believe it’s all in the attitude. Have a good attitude and you will perform any task better. The question is how we get that good attitude towards the mundane tasks. For me personally I’m trying to focus more lately on the positive and being in a good mood. Just a concious effort lately has seemed to make quite a big difference.
.-= Free Life Believer´s last blog ..The Big Goal =-.

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Stephen Mills August 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

@Free Life Believer. Thanks for stopping in to comment. Focusing on the positive and just plain creating a positive where there was none, like the mailman is a great way to have a superior attitude.

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Rosa August 12, 2009 at 9:29 am

I totally agree with you Stephen, it is not the job that is extraordinary, it is us the people that can be extraordinary. We have to do everything we do as best as we can and enjoy it as much as we can. A great way to live fully in the present and live life to the maximum 🙂
Thanks for this.
.-= Rosa´s last blog ..Charlie Manuel Peña =-.

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Stephen Mills August 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Hi @Rosa! Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Yes, live live to the maximum, because you don’t get a do-over.

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Lana-DreamFollowers Blog August 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I love Eckhart Tolle! It is hard to be fully present in everything you do especially when you are just starting out, but the more you practice it the easier it becomes. Great post!
.-= Lana-DreamFollowers Blog´s last blog ..Ask And It Is Given – Do You Truly Understand What That Means? =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

@Lana, thank you for the kind comment. I too love Eckhart Tolle, but some parts of his philosophy go get a little mystical for me. So I pick out the best and just enjoy the rest 🙂

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Zeenat{Positive Provocations} August 12, 2009 at 12:25 pm

HI Stephen,
I was introduced to Eckhart Tolle by a friend, who was going through a messy divorce and found solace in some of his work…. After which i have managed to read some of his writings. He is truly inspirational..and his insight is very very empowering.
Its so true what you mentioned in this article….about being in the present and doing things attentively. It beats the multitasking bug….and you end up enjoying even the smallest of the activity or job. Not to mention when you put your heart into any act it truly does end up making a difference…not only to you but to all around you as well.
.-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Looking Inward To Find Your True Self. =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Hi @Zeenat, I think he has some remarkable insights, but as I said to Lana, there are also some things where he goes too far. But that doesn’t take away from the incredible power of what he teaches. I have learned so much from him, especially about simply being present at all times.

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Diggy - upgradereality.com August 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Hi Stephen!
I love the Eckhart quote. It’s a way of living and thinking of things that not many of us do! It’s always about what is next, and we think so much about what is next that we try to get what we are doing right now over and done with asap.

All about expression and not impression;)

Have a rockin’ day! 🙂
.-= Diggy – upgradereality.com´s last blog ..14 fabulous date ideas =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

@Diggy, thanks and you have a rockin’ day too. It’s one step at a time and doing what you are currently doing well is your next step to ending up with an extraordinary result.

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Dragos Roua August 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Hey, I really liked this. Kinda reminded me of the tea ceremony I attended when I was in Japan a few months ago. There is life in every gesture, in every heart beat. Don’t waste it. Thanks for reminding me this, Stephen, I enjoyed it 🙂
.-= Dragos Roua´s last blog ..Assess – Decide – Do for Programming =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm

@Dragos, I’m glad you reminded me of your article about the tea ceremony. I can imagine that reading your post. I like this: “There is life in every gesture, in every heart beat.” Well said. Tweeted!

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Robin Easton August 12, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I really love this post and feel strongly about living thusly. I do it for me, do it for others, do it because: “Your doing then becomes a channel through which consciousness enters this world.” I feel this way even about digging ditches, washing dishes, etc. because when we approach these things in this way we are filled with Life. And we end up living right NOW in this moment. Not down the road “after this is done”, “when I have a better job, more money, new house, etc.” We live fully RIGHT NOW! That is key to being happy.

Very endearing post. It reminds us of something often lost in this instant gratification world. I look back a generation or two in history and it seems like people took more pride in what they did, like the mailman in your story. I remember a lot people like that when I was growing up in small town Maine.
.-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Turn Off the Bombardment =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:34 pm

@Robin, wonderful commentary. I think you are right about pride in what you do and the fact that it is deteriorating in recent times. I compare something as simple as the service in a fast food joint now with 30 years ago when I worked at one. There is no comparison. It’s time for people to get that pride back. 🙂

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills August 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I love this “…you don’t have to be in any particular job or circumstance to be extraordinary and make a difference in your world. It’s not about your circumstances, it’s about you. ” When we fully appreciate the truth of those words our world takes on a whole new dimension. Thanks Stephen!
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Using Applied Focus Sessions to Boost Productivity =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:35 pm

@Jonathan, thank you for your comments and support!

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Juancav August 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Every single normal person is equal in mind and in thoughts have the same potential,only need developped it. I agree.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:36 pm

@Juancav, thanks for stopping by and participating in the conversation 🙂

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BunnygotBlog August 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm

This article is fantastic. It reminds me of our mailman when I was a kid. His name was Jack and I swear he knew every kids name in the neighborhood. He was like part of the family.
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Tuesday’s Funny Nosediving Into Spam =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Hi @Bunny! Thanks for that support. How wonderful!

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Positively Present August 13, 2009 at 4:04 am

I love this post, Stephen. I really believe that we all have the power to be extraordinary. Every single one of us already is extraordinary — we just have to believe it. You might want to check out Mandy Moore’s song “Extraordinary” — of course it came to mind when I read this post. It’s a great song! Very uplifting and inspiring!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..a positive present just for you =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:44 pm

@Positively Present, I agree with you about our power to be extraordinary. I listened to that song and it was very inspiring. Thank you!

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Derrick Whyte August 13, 2009 at 7:33 am

Eckhart Tolle speaks and lives a powerful message. Being one with life is the foundation of peace and harmony in our lives. Life lives us…we have to “roll with the punches” so to speak. Being extraordinary in life is there for the taking in all of us,I call it “Awakened doing”, being totally awake in the present moment in what ever you do. Thank you for the great post.

Derrick

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:46 pm

@Derrick, thank you. The “Awakened doing” concept is exactly that this is about. Thanks for sharing it.

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meatlessmama August 13, 2009 at 9:38 am

Excellent. When my son was going through cancer treatment we learned not to think about what comes next, but to live in the moment and make the most of that particular day. Sometimes we all need a reminder to live in the moment!
.-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Farm Fresh Eggs =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:47 pm

@meatlessmama, thanks for joining the conversation. I’m sorry to hear about your son and I hope all is well. Whatever time you have needs to be lived to the max and not be wasted. Nobody knows how much they have.

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CT Olson August 13, 2009 at 9:47 am

It’s an intriguing concept, although being someone who works in a creative area it’s a little at odds with the type of work I do and things that give me joy. In fact creating a new design or piece of music I almost have to shut out all other things that are in the moment – the cat crying for food or interruptions that occur in life. So there is some applicability to it I guess I’d call it focus or something but you also have to think about what doesn’t exist and what could be to solve a problem or go somewhere with a new concept. That to me is not living in the moment necessarily – interesting though and I will try that to focus my attention better.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:49 pm

@CT, I think I disagree. Whatever you are doing do it. When you are being creative, being totally into being creative is certainly being in the moment. Thank you for commenting!

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Karl Staib - Work Happy Now August 13, 2009 at 12:18 pm

I’m a huge fan of Eckhart Tolle. He’s taught me a lot about being happy at work. When we let our thoughts get carried away about the future or past we get caught up in how we want life to be instead of how it really is.

When we ground ourselves in the present moment and give ourselves over to the calm in the moment we can enjoy any and every situation.
.-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog ..Dealing With Dread =-.

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Stephen Mills August 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm

@Karl, thank you and I totally agree. Eckhart’s writing has done a great deal for me as well.

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Vincent August 14, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Hey Stephen,

I haven’t picked up the book, A New Earth, yet and I think I will need to pick it up soon. It seems like there are many raving reviews that I can’t afford to ignore it anymore. 🙂

Cheers,
Vincent
.-= Vincent´s last blog ..Why You Should Stop Complaining About The Lack Of Time =-.

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Steve August 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

What I like about this post is that it is also reflective of Biblical Scripture. The apostle Paul exhorted his followers to do everything to the best of their ability, as working for God and not for men. When I am doing my work as an act of love for my Creator, it brings pleasure to what I am doing, regardless of the task.
.-= Steve´s last blog ..How to STAND OUT From the Crowd =-.

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Lalitha Brahma October 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Nice article. I agree that present moment is the moment of power. As someone said, past is History, future is mystery and present is a PRESENT/GIFT of God and learn to live in the present.

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