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.