Nelson Mandela - A truly Extraordinary Man - Travel In Peace

oday the world lost one of it’s true heroes and a leader beyond comparison. Nelson Mandela changed the world for millions of people and managed to stay true to his values and beliefs as he did so. There is much to be said about Mandela and his life and I think it best to let the man say it himself. Below is a collection of quotes made by him during his life. As I read them I reflected that these are the words of a man who has lived a truly extraordinary life and one that he is surely proud of. An inspiration.

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” 

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” 

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” 

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” 

“One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.” 

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” 

“In my country we go to prison first and then become President. ” 

“I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.” 

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires” 

“I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.” 

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” 

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” 

24 hours in A&E

In this post Anni Townend writes about the power of connecting with people and how that can make an extraordinary difference in their lives.

Like many people I have been watching 24 hours in A and E,  and have every time been moved by the quality of care, the kindness of strangers, and the stories of people suddenly thrown together through being human.  Last night on Channel Four was no exception.  The man who six months lost the love of his life, his wife, and with her all his support.  As he lay there in A and E struggling to breathe, feeling a tightness in his chest and quietly weeping, the consultant reached out to him, listened and asked questions and quickly established that this man was lonely, and as the man said himself, lost.  What struck me was how the asthma and difficulty breathing had him be taken into A and E where he met this consultant who took the time, and indeed spoke about how elderly patients need more time to talk, to be listened to, to be seen, heard and understood.  This consultant absolutely understood that what this man needed was some support within his local community, he made a phone call and within a short while someone from Social Services came to talk with the man, set up a home visit and he is now being connected with other people and enjoying the possibility of a future relationship whilst totally acknowledging the loss of his wife.

A little bit of care and attention can make a huge difference.

By Anni Townend

Have You Ever?


Have you ever seen anything as wonderful as your own brilliance?

The way you unfold like a flower when inspired with a purpose beyond your mortality

Has it occurred to you that now is here, and love in each new moment is as important as the last?

That all thoughts and acts carried with great love change you and others

And that all thoughts and acts carried without great love change you and others.

Is there a difference?

Have you ever stood in the presence of the vibrant sunrise at dawn and felt the first warmth of the day’s potential caress your face, and have you let that touch you?

Have you ever stood on the edge of the world at sunset and watched the last flare of brilliance at the days end, and have you let that touch you?

Have you ever seen more possibility than now?

Have you ever turned to face the world and said.

‘This is me

I am here

I can be and do what I want

I can change the world today’

And then stepped into it?

I thought I was going to change the world

Maybe I did, or maybe I changed myself

And the world came along for the ride.

I wonder what I will do tomorrow.

Ian Lock

Adventures in being extraordinary pt.2

Part 2 of our series of letters between Lucy Kidd and Anni Townend. Lucy is settling in to her new life and taking time to practice and remember how to be extraordinary.

Dear Anni

Its amazing what a difference a week can make! Reaching out to you, my friends and family seemed to take the pressure off. By letting people know that I was having a harder time than expected adjusting to our new life, people made a special effort to make me feel welcome or to reassure me that I had done the right thing. It was a fantastic reminder to ask for help when I need it rather than struggle along in silence. 

I think I had focused so much of my attention on making sure that my husband and the children were settling in well that I forgot to give myself time and space to do the same. Through talking about this and taking time to stop and think about this as you suggested, it has helped me to focus on small ways of Being Extraordinary every day. Like exploring new parks with the boys after school, making the effort to meet new people at the school gates, taking time to exercise and look after myself, and really thinking about what we want from our home as we look for a place to live. And being kind and patient with myself, to trust that I will feel settled here and will make some great new friends. To know that it will come in time. 

I’m being reminded that Being Extraordinary isn’t about getting it right first time. Its more about noticing how you are being. Being aware of your feelings and emotions and how they change in relation to what is happening around you. Being willing to sit with these and explore them. Being open to new ways of doing things. Being accepting of how things are. Being grateful for what you have and what is still to come. 

These little ways of Being Extraordinary mean that I am feeling a lot happier about being here in Dubai and am starting to be able to visualise what our life will be like here which is quite exciting!

Thank you for your support and encouragement along the way. 


Dear Lucy

I am so glad that reaching out helped you and that asking for help and getting the reassurance from people that you have made the right decision has helped. Indeed I think that this is a great formula – reaching out to others/sharing with them how you are + asking for help = reassurance.

I am often surprised not only at home but also at work how this formula can have someone go from feeling anxious to feeling relaxed, from not feeling able to do something to feeling enabled. And I think the thing that you have given yourself, the gift of patience and kindness to yourself is so important, to go slowly and thirdly to trust in yourself, others and the environment and that these three things will help you every day.

Indeed it occurs to me that your ‘mantra’ for now might be based on this, and that you could check in with yourself each day around ‘who you are being’, remembering that you are ‘being extraordinary’ and that ‘Patience, Kindness and Trust’ will guide you.

Best wishes to you, and your family


To catch up with the rest of the series please click here.

When was the last time you were a true learner

A few months ago I picked up the practice of Tai Chi after a gap of nearly 20 years. I enrolled in a local class on a Saturday morning and showed up for my first session. It was a great experience and felt brilliant to be getting back into something that I had enjoyed and derived great benefit from in the past.

Having practised Tai Chi before, I have some vague remembered knowledge of what it’s about, the forms that it involves and the philosophy behind it. That helped me as I was driving to my first class. I thought ‘I won’t be a complete novice, I’ve done this before and I might even know what I’m doing’. There were, however, some things that had a big impact on me during my first session.

As the lesson progressed my assumed knowledge started to get in the way of my listening and my learning and I quickly noticed how I might want to change my approach if I wanted to learn anything. Everyone else in the class had been attending for at least a year and I was clearly the novice in the room by quite a distance. I had by this time reconciled myself to listening and learning from the teacher, a difficult thing as she kept talking to me as if it was my first time and consistently pointing out where I was going wrong! She was actually doing this in a really committed and engaging way but I think I must be out of practice at being a learner so I was feeling a bit out of my depth. Imagine my internal reaction when she suggested that other members of the class work with me and teach me too. There I was with people I had never met before telling me how to do things and pointing out where I was making mistakes. Internally my resistance started to build and I suddenly noticed how uncoachable I had become. I took a deep breath and opened myself up to learning all that I could from those around me and the change in my energy and their ability to teach me transformed.

The second lesson a week later was completely different , what we did was almost exactly the same as the week before but the possibilities for me had just got much bigger.

I’ve learnt a lot in my first few lessons and not all of it has been about Tai Chi!

Adventures In Being Extraordinary

This is the first in a series of online coaching support for people who are exploring new ways of Being Extraordinary. You might  just be starting out on the journey and would like some support in answering the questions in the book, or maybe going through a change in your life which is making it harder than ever to Be Extraordinary.  

If you’d like to take part please contact us at the bottom of this page,  sharing something about yourself and what you would like support in. 

Our first series of conversations is between Anni Townend and Lucy Kidd.

Anni Townend is a leadership consultant, coach, facilitator and author.  She works with leaders in organisations helping them to lead organisational change through people. She helps people get clear on what they are leading for, to build bigger relationships and to develop and deliver with and through others. Anni believes in the power of people to change and to create relationships in which they can be open, honest and trusting of each other – relationships in which people are affirmed, valued and respected for who they are and for what they do.

Lucy Kidd is an Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant who has recently moved with her family to Dubai. Although she didn’t know it at the time, she has been consciously practicing Being Extraordinary for the past 13 years since choosing to tackle some old childhood issues that were getting in the way of how she wanted to be. This taught her a lot about how to choose her way of being rather than surrender to experience and set her on the way to specialising in limiting beliefs in her work. 

Here she reaches out to her friend and colleague Anni to help her to stay Extraordinary in a new and challenging situation. 

Dear Anni, 

I’d really like your help to find new ways to Be Extraordinary as I embark on creating a new life in Dubai. 

Although it’s something I have wanted for a long time, I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to set up home in a new country. 

We arrived three weeks ago and I keep waiting to feel that reassuring sense of satisfaction you get when you know you have absolutely done the right thing. Instead I have a constant nagging feeling that something is missing.  

I know all the logical reasons as to why this is a great idea for our family,  but I’d really like my emotions to catch up. 

As you know, Dubai is already a home from home for us as both my husband and I grew up here and we have had family out here for years. We even met out here so I really expected more of a sense of coming home. The trouble is that in the intervening 10 years we have set up a lovely home in England and made some fabulous friends along the way who were hard to leave behind. 

Although I know that we will have a great lifestyle here with our two boys getting a better education, having more quality family time together and me not having to work (not to mention the sunshine), I’m struggling to truly embrace the change.

As a coach, I’m lucky to have the toolkit to ‘switch myself on’ and get more positive, but I would really like it to come naturally! This is an extraordinary move for our family with the promise of big opportunities for us all so why am I finding it so hard to bring my own extraordinary qualities to the party?!

Please help! 



Hi Lucy,

Great to hear from you and your creating your new life in Dubai, a life which I know you have looked forward to for a long time as a family, and a place which as you say is a home from home – and yet isn’t feeling quite like home – yet.

I can imagine that it is really different being in Dubai now, to how it was ten years ago when you were there – not least because in the intervening time you have become a family with your husband and have two lovely sons.

I can really understand that whilst it is an extraordinary move for you all that it is also hard to bring all your extraordinary qualities to the party and that you really want to!

Your wanting to is a great place to get in touch with your being extraordinary. You have to want to bring your extraordinary qualities to be able to do so…. and sometimes it really helps – usually I have found – to take time each day to acknowledge just how extraordinary you are, and all that you have already done in just making the move.

And to consciously think about these things – and to talk about them – simply to stop and think, and to talk with your husband and your boys about just how extraordinary it is that you are all together in Dubai. And that you have made the move, and are together doing all kinds of new and different things and that sometimes it is difficult. This in and of itself is extraordinary! And can sometimes get lost in the busyness of doing all the things that I can imagine you are doing, that are new and exciting…. and perhaps sometimes a bit odd, because they are so different.

It’s Mother’s Day over here in the UK this weekend, and I think as a MUM you have done an extraordinary job of packing up the house, travelling over to Dubai with the boys, and holding the space and settling you all in and supporting your husband in all of you Being Extraordinary every day.

Hope this helps


The Bucket List

In this post Ian Lock muses about some of the choices we make that have our lives be more, or less extraordinary.

When you look back on your life what do you see? Is it a life full of extraordinary events that that helped you to feel truly alive or is it a series of ‘if onlys’? For me it’s somewhere in between. I have a job that takes up much of my time and I have a family who I love. Both of these are full time occupations and I notice that the day to day managing of my life can have some Extraordinary plans slip under the radar.

About a year ago a good friend of mine suggested that we stop buying each other Christmas and birthday presents and instead use the money to plan a weekend away once a year to do the things we’d always wanted to do. This was a great suggestion because we used to do loads together and life has just got in the way of that over the last 10 years or so. For our first trip we decided to go to the Le Mans 24 hour race in June this year. The time came to make the commitment and I noticed how I started to think about work, cost and time away from my family. Maybe this year wasn’t the best time to do this, maybe it will be easier in a few years time, why don’t we do something closer to home – in effect, why don’t we make the dream smaller, easier to achieve and a lot less extraordinary. As we kicked this around others who we’d invited started to drop out as well sighting time and cost as their reasons. It suddenly struck me that the time to do this was now. Yes, we might do it instead in a few years time but anything could happen and maybe we wouldn’t or even couldn’t. 

My habit is usually to put myself at the end of the queue when it comes to doing what I want to. This maybe true for others too. I’m happy with that most of the time and it does get in the way when I really want to do something. The end result of this is that I don’t feed my soul as often as I would like. 

So yesterday became a good day. I booked the package to Le Mans with two friends and we’re heading off in June for a weekend of racing heaven. We’ve made it even more extraordinary by booking a camping pitch right on the famous Porsche curves where the cars are approaching at some of the fastest speeds, where we can go to sleep with sound of engines popping on the overrun and the smell of petrol in the warm June air. This may not be your cup of tea and for us it’s a truly extraordinary weekend. 

It feels great to have booked this up and I can’t wait for June. It’s had me think about what else I can do in other areas of my life to plan some extraordinary events. I also give fair warning that some posts in June might well include stories and pictures from Le Mans! 

What extraordinary things have you always wanted to do? 

Have a look today and see how you might just make them happen.


What are you making it mean?

In the world we live in meaning is everything. One of the questions I often ask people is: ‘What are you making it mean?’ ‘It’ being anything from something someone says, their tone of voice, the way they are looking at us to news of a set back or even news of a success.

I first came across this question many years ago when I was studying Tai Chi in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery – this could sound grand – it was, in fact, at a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery behind the library in a town in the UK. The teacher asked us to meditate on the form we had just performed and to consider ‘that nothing in this world has any meaning at all – except the one we choose to give it. Be mindful of the meaning you are giving to things.’ I was 25 years old and it was a little deep – nevertheless this practice has stayed with me. I have come to understand that many of the meanings we give to events in our lives are completely made up and are often based on our own fears and prejudices. I have also learnt that we can choose the meaning that we give to events, based on reality rather than fantasy.

So how does this help us to be extraordinary? I believe that we spend much of our days attributing meaning to things that go on around us and that this affects our behaviour and ultimately our impact on others. When we become aware of the meaning that we are unconsciously giving to things we can then powerfully choose the way we want to ‘show up’ in the world. Without this conscious choice we can often make what goes on around us mean negative things, either about ourselves or others to the detriment of our leadership.

Spend some time today noticing the meaning you are attributing to things by pausing to ask yourself:-

  • What am I making this mean?

  • What evidence am I basing this on?

  • What do I want to make this mean that will help me to be Extraordinary?

Ian Lock

Get Inspired: Never Give Up

Here’s a great video that demonstrates the power of having someone believe in you and the extraordinary difference that this can make to what we believe is possible.  Years ago I remember hearing on the radio someone talking about their success and when asked what they put this down to she said that throughout her mother had believed in her. So through all the ups and downs, the failures as well as the successes, her mother was there believing in her for who she was – and that this was what helped her be extraordinary.

Sometimes it starts with someone else believing in us, having faith that we can do what seems to us (and seemingly the rest of the world) impossible – and their belief in us has a small chink of possibility open up to us, we just think that it might be worth having a go, making a start and we reach towards the impossible. Only to find that our belief in ourselves grows and that after all we can do it!

By Anni Townend

Who do you feed to be extraordinary?

Sometimes being extraordinary is all about the choices we make. I love this story as it describes how we can all wrestle with the different sides of ourselves.

It was night in the desert and the old Cherokee Indian was sitting around the fire with his granddaughter who he loved. They would often talk of the great mysteries as well as the simple things in life and on this occasion, after some time, the little girl asked a question that was on her mind.
“How is it that some of the time you are so gentle and kind and have time to play and talk to me but at other times you are so fierce and angry?”

And the grandfather looked at the girl and was quiet for a moment before he replied. “Do you know that in everyone there is a battle between two big wolves? The first wolf is no good. This wolf tries to force what he wants onto others and when he is thwarted and doesn’t get his own way he gets angry. When you see that wolf you will see its cruel mouth, its false pride, its arrogance and envy.
“But the other wolf has, as you say, a completely different nature,” he continued. “This second wolf is generous and contented. It thinks of its family and knows that more than anything they need his wisdom and it remembers that peace is always better than war. When you come across that wolf you can be sure to find love and hope, kindness and truth.”
“The problem is,” said the old Indian looking at his granddaughter “these two wolves fight in me every day.”
The little girl thought about this for a minute and then she asked her grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
And the old Cherokee replied simply, “The one that I feed.”

Who are you choosing to feed today?

The high point

There comes a point in every journey where you are on the verge of being extraordinary. In this post Alan Humphries shares with us some observations from his continent crossing cycling adventures and in doing so his story holds some great perspectives for all of our lives, whatever we are doing.

It was about 3 years ago at the age of 58 that I started the first of a series of cycling odysseys. I wanted to do this because I was working flat out and fora change wanted to do something just for me. As a kid I always loved exploring,  so even though I was approaching 60 and had not been on a bike for 30 years I relished the chance of some adventure. Since then I have cycled from Canada to Mexico and recently right across Europe West to East.

This picture was taken in Bulgaria last year at the highest point of our 3,750 km cycle journey from the Irish Sea to the Bosporus or Liverpool to Istanbul.

Although I don’t really see it this way, people I share these stories with think I was being extraordinary in attempting these trips with my friends.

I hope that some of my experiences help you when you choose to embark on a journey of your own. In a sense the experience and observations I have had on these cycling odysseys have often mirrored life in some ways.

  • Believe that even over 60, great adventures await for those who commit.

  • Never quite know how far you will ride or where you are going to sleep that night.

  • Share bedrooms with 3 other guys who certainly snore more than you do.

  • Take a role in the group from navigator, accountant, hotel sniffer, blog writer, grocer, cafe and ice cream aficionado, puncture repairer, greaser etc.

  • Forgive others and yourself when you make those lengthy navigational errors.

  • Enjoy the magic of riding alongside Europe’s mightiest rivers and great cities.

  • Endure the plains of Hungary & Bulgaria.

  • Consistently go to bed earlier than you ever have since you were 14.

  • Join in the best beer, meal, shower, moment, joke, downhill -ratings on the trip.

  • Forget you heard that joke every 5days throughout the 6 weeks.

  • Help mend 17 punctures.

  • Fall off at least once.

  • Never give up at the bottom of those endless escarpments after each Balkan village

  • Never get upset that you still cannot really explain to anyone why you did it. 

So I have learnt that whatever we are doing and wherever we are going, if we’re prepared for all these things and many more, being extraordinary is available to us all.

Alan Humphries is a leadership consultant, long distance cyclist and often an extraordinary fellow.

It's not whether you win or lose

Sometimes we are all faced with the dilemma, do I win whatever or do I stand up and live according to my values and beliefs? Iván Fernández Anaya had such a choice in a recent race. 

On December 2, Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race – mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line. 

Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first. 

Ivan Fernandez Anaya, a Basque runner of 24 years who is considered an athlete with a big future (champion of Spain of 5,000 meters in promise category two years ago) said after the test: 

“But even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn’t have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.” 

He said at the beginning: “unfortunately, very little has been said of the gesture. And it’s a shame. In my opinion, it would be nice to explain to children, so they do not think that sport is only what they see on TV: violent kicks in abundance, posh statements, fingers in the eyes of the enemy …”

This is a great example of someone standing for what they believe in. As he looks back on this moment in the years to come, will he regret not taking the win, or will he be proud of his choice?

What would you have done?

Sometimes it can feel too much to be extraordinary

Sometimes it can feel too much to be extraordinary on top of everything else that we need to do and be! But this beautiful story about humility, kindness and sharing shows us that it really doesn’t take very much at all.

An anthropologist proposed a game to some children from an African tribe. 
He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. 
When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: 
UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

If these children can find it in themselves to be extraordinary in their consideration of each other then there’s hope for the rest of us!

Lucy Kidd

How to be an extraordinary learner

This article featured on the Training Zone website on 7th January

Ian Lock has some tips to up your learning game. Read on for enlightenment.

When was the last time you truly learnt something new? 

I don’t mean something small like someone’s name or how to get from one place to another. I mean something that required your learning muscle to be properly flexed. 

The world we live in today is changing at an exponential rate. Keeping up with the new technologies and the vast information available at our fingertips is a big task. The connections we are able to make to different people with different thoughts and new ideas all around the world flood our lives not only with possibilities but with a whole raft of new things for us to learn. The speed of this change is only predicted to get faster, so how can you prepare yourself to be an extraordinary learner in this future? 

There’s something that happens to us as we grow older concerning the process of learning. When we are children it’s accepted that we will take time to learn, that we will get things wrong and that to really succeed we need encouragement when we get it right and when we get it wrong. In fact to really learn, we need to fail as much as we need to succeed. But as adults many of us actively shy away from getting it wrong and falling over in our learning. It’s as if suddenly we feel that we should have developed an ability to learn immediately, to be brilliant (or at least competent) very quickly. We get caught in trying to look good in everything that we do. 

I remember the utter joy and frustration I experienced about 10 years ago when I started to learn to surf. This was a completely new experience for me and a skill I didn’t have. The focus and concentration required was both exhilarating and exhausting. Time and time again I would try to stand up on the board once I had caught a wave and fall headfirst into the water. It took me 20 hours of practice before I could stand, even briefly, on the board. This was because I refused to take any lessons for the first week as I thought I ought to be able to do it myself! 

There were times when my desire to get it right would be so strong that each failure was like a personal indication of my utter inability to be good at surfing. I also remember the first wave that I rode into shore all the way and the sheer exhilaration that I felt on being able to do it. Hours of practice had paid off, I was now a surfer, or so I thought. In reality I had learnt just a little about a very complex and skilled sport. 

This is where our ability to practise self compassion helps us to be extraordinary learners. Self compassion allows us to fall over, to fail, to get it wrong, to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. It allows us to ask for help and it allows us to smile when we can’t always learn as quickly as we’d like. It reminds us that learning is about discovering something new and taking the time to do that properly and enjoyably. Most importantly it gives us a much greater chance of succeeding because it allows us to take the time to understand and explore and really embed what we are learning. 

So – what are the questions you should be asking yourself to become an extraordinary learner? 

  • What is your current approach to learning something new? 

Are you gentle and compassionate with yourself? Do you allow yourself time to learn, or do you set yourself punishing standards and try to get it right straight away? 

  • What are your beliefs about what helps you and others learn brilliantly?

 Think about when you learn best, what are the factors that are usually in place? How do they help you learn? Similarly with others, when have you noticed that others learn best? What is the environment that you need to create to facilitate successful learning? 

  • What have you noticed that stops you learning? 

Think about the things that you have noticed over the years that really reduce your ability to learn. How do you set yourself and others up to fail? Do you have beliefs about learning that might be hindering you? 

  • What would an extraordinary approach to learning be for you? 

Imagine yourself learning at your very best. How you would create an environment that allows you to do this? 

  • What opportunities will you take to learn today? 

Approach everything you are doing today as an extraordinary learner. See what you find out and what difference it makes. Notice where you have stopped using your learning perspective and are actively employing your ‘I know what I’m doing’ perspective.

Ultimately learning is not about looking good, it’s about being genuinely interested in the possibilities and the joy that result from growing and developing as we walk through our lives.

Ian Lock

The Importance of Self Belief

This post by Being Extraordinary appeared on Think Positive 30

on 4th January 2013

How can self belief help you to be Extraordinary? 

As we move into 2013, I find myself thinking a lot about the power of self belief. Our self belief impacts upon everything that we are and everything that we do. People with true self belief can go anywhere and do anything. People with false self belief, or bravado, often just pretend they can. 

Can you remember a time when you truly believed in yourself, felt good about who you were and what you could do? A time when you felt really positive? Even if it was only for a brief moment, can you remember how you felt and what you believed? 

For me one of those times was when my daughter, Imogen, was born. I remember standing in the hospital room at around 2.30 am holding this precious little bundle in my arms and looking out across the skyline. I had an enormous sense of well being and purpose. I felt ready to face into the rest of my life and create possibilities for me and my family. I believed that I had reached a point where I was ready to be me and that I could truly change the world. At that very moment nothing was impossible. That memory still fills me with the same positivity 12 years on and at some of my most difficult times since, I have used it to sustain me. I often ask myself what that version of me, at that time in my life, with positivity and self belief, would do today. 

Positivity and Self Belief says: This is the life I’m living. This is the life I want to be living. Here are some obstacles that are getting in the way. Let’s figure out how I’m going to get around them! 

Negativity and Lack of Self Belief says: This is me. I am stuck. Here are all the reasons why I can’t change… 

The difference between us feeling powerful and powerless is all about our self belief. Believing in yourself doesn’t guarantee that you will always succeed – but your energy will be different, how you feel will be different, your ability to handle everything that happens in your life will be different. 

Think back to a day or a time when you felt great and had real self belief. 

What did it feel like and how did you behave? 

What was possible? 

What could you do today with that feeling to make your life Extraordinary? 

Ian Lock

The Wake Up Call

This post by Being Extraordinary appeared on the Self Improvement Blog

on the 3rd January 2013

The Wake-Up Call: Lessons from an 11-Year Old in Being Extraordinary

I’ve just returned from my daughter’s mid-term music recital. Everyone in her year took to the floor and did something, from singing to playing all manner of musical instruments and some even did both, at the same time. Her and her friends are all in the 11 to 12 age bracket. Old enough to know it’s scary but not yet old enough to let fear overcome their willingness to try. All of the children were scared and nervous, and all were courageous and gave it their best shot. Of course there were different levels of talent and ability but that didn’t matter. Talent can be latent and ability can develop over time – this is true for as long as we live.

One little girl in particular looked absolutely terrified and was on the verge of tears. As the music started you could feel everyone in the audience urging her on. The first verse came and went without a sound until she looked at her teacher and mouthed, with a small tear trickling down her cheek, ‘I’ve forgotten the words’. The teacher stopped playing the piano. It was at this point that her life could have gone two ways. We all wanted to rescue her and we would have applauded if she’d just sat down but the teacher had a quiet word, talked her through the song and encouraged her to start again. The music started again and she began to sing in a very shaky, quiet voice. As the song built her confidence returned and she started to sing with more depth and power. By the end, her voice was full and rich and the smile on her face as she finished was something to behold. This child’s level of courage was extraordinary. She had gone from fear to disaster to triumph in the space of three minutes and her world had just got bigger. 

In effect all these children are practising Being Extraordinary. Their lives are full of hope and possibility, their dreams are there to be lived and their life is ready to be shaped. Children don’t know any other way than Being Extraordinary, it’s in everything that they do. They tell us about their dreams for the future all the time and we often dismiss them as childish fantasy. No wonder by the time we’re young adults, we’re starting to lower our sights. 


From children to adults…

Being Extraordinary starts when we’re young. Every day children step up to do things that many of us as adults wouldn’t even attempt. I think it’s because they haven’t let themselves learn yet that they’re not able to do it. Life is a fresh canvas for them and everything is possible.

Fast forward 20 to 30 years and I wonder where we’ll find these inspiring children I’ve just been watching. Typically not all will be living the life of their dreams. As the years go by, dreams will fade, ambition will dwindle and the possibilities for the future will lessen as one by one they start to settle for a life that is almost good enough. 

Recapturing our dreams

So how do we live lives where we are Being Extraordinary, with all the hopes, possibilities and dreams that we had as children?

Play with the following questions and see what you can imagine.

1 – What did you want to be when you grew up? 

What were your dreams for the future? 

What was the life you imagined you would live?

2 – What would your life look like today if it was extraordinary?

Start to describe an extraordinary life for yourself that gives you a sense of purpose. 

What would that life look like? 

What’s the difference you want to make?

3 – What would be possible if your life was extraordinary? 

What would be happening in your extraordinary life? 

What would you be doing next week, next month, next year?

4 – Where will you start? 

Challenge yourself. Name the one thing you’re going to do this week to make your life extraordinary. 

Where will you pay extra attention to what you’re doing and how you’re being to create something truly extraordinary? 

Enjoying the journey

The way to make this work is to be willing to try something that gives you the life that you truly want. Don’t be diminished by the fear, uncertainty and doubt that holds many of us back. Your inner voice might try to tell you that it’s too uncomfortable to change and be different, it might whisper that it’s better to be safe. 

Just the thought that you could be extraordinary requires that you step outside your comfort zone. Being extraordinary is just as much about the journey and how we make that journey, as the end result.  

I find myself wondering what those children’s lives would be like in 30 years time if they could manage to retain their sense of wonder and possibility, if they all ended up living lives that they felt were truly extraordinary. 

I guess for that to be the case we have got to show them how.

Sometimes It takes a moment

It was the end of a long week and I’d been working in my office for the whole of Friday. Everything seemed to be going wrong and everything I put my hand to just didn’t seem to work out right. I was getting into a real funk and was becoming angry with all I was trying to do and started to become generally cross with the world. This happens to me from time to time and if I don’t catch it, it has been known to ruin the whole weekend in the past. I know this because my family have been very good at telling me! When I get caught like this I need something to help me get back out of the hole I’m sinking into otherwise I can often just start digging deeper and faster. For me the key is to spot that I’m in that place and to want to do something about it. Well I managed to spot it at about 4:30 pm as I came across one of my favourite poems on feeling good about yourself – no coincidence I suspect.

I re read the poem and started to think about and see myself in a different way. The poem reminded me to embrace me and my life from the perspective of my extraordinary self.  It is, for me, a story about meeting yourself again and reconnecting with yourself and those hopes and dreams you have always harboured.

Love after love – Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Be Extraordinary Today

People are fantastic. I’m constantly reminded of this especially when I’m talking with others who are Being Extraordinary. These people are aware that they need to draw on something special from within themselves to create the life that they want.

So what does being extraordinary look and feel like? It starts with who you are being. It’s not about doing extraordinary things, that will come anyway, it is being an extraordinary person. It is paying close attention to your life and your sense of purpose, it is constantly managing the energy around you, it is helping yourself and others to imagine and hold possibilities that were previously unimaginable, it is paying attention to yourself in everything that you are doing. History is full of people who have pulled off the impossible and in some way they have all been extraordinary.

So think of you at your best and use this as your baseline and then think way beyond this to you being extraordinary. Imagine what being even more focused and courageous will look like for you. Imagine taking one thing that you are doing today and choose to go and be extraordinary and see what happens.

Let us know how you get on.