I just caught myself churning while trying to write this post. It’s another one of those ironic places I find myself at times. The churn is I found myself worrying what others might think of me. Will they judge me due to these words? Will they make assumptions about what I’m saying in this post? I found myself re-writing parts of the message just to ensure I don’t upset someone. That’s a problem only because I was removing parts of the message I believe to be the most valuable. In other words, I was dilluting the message as I want to be liked by everyone. Story of life happening here!
When I surround myself with less than extraordinary people this is what happens. I sacrifice me. I play a much smaller game than I know I’m capable of. I try to please them and be seen as something I’m not. So rather than worry about them anymore, I am going to write this post about the extraordinary people who are in my life. The people who expect me to be nothing more or less than … me. The people who, whether they know it or not, have a positive impact in my life.
What would be possible if …
What would be different in your life if all the people around you expected nothing more from you than to just be you? What if they expected you to not try to live up to someone else’s expectations? What if when you messed up, they were there to support you without judgement? What would be possible?
Lately, I’ve come to learn one of the most important lessons in my life. Living my life to the fullest is not about what I do. Living fully is about who I’m being. What’s become very noticable for me is how I am impacted by the people I surround myself with. Let me explain …
We live in a society which values weath, knowledge, titles, property and so much more. It’s easy to define ourselves by these things (I know because I tried for a very long time). When we do this it becomes a game of wanting more, and despite getting more it rarely is enough. So the quest for more continues seemingly without end. I see this over and over again as people buy expensive cars, big homes, go after the next big promotion or the next certification for their career.
In my mind these things do not define what it means to be extraordinary. I know lots of people with lots of material wealth, a fancy title or a wall full of certificates. Many of these people are what I would consider really smart, and often can quote lots of obscure information. When I talk with them though, they never seem satisfied. They always want to get more, be seen as more, get further ahead in life. The problem is when you get into this mindset, what you have never seems like enough. I know … I’ve been there.
In my definition extraordinary means people are true to themselves regardless of what they have or do. In being true to themselves, they expect nothing different from me. They love me for everything it means for me, and want me to be my best self. They don’t judge when I fail, they cheer me on when I’m taking a risk, and have my back when I fall flat on my face. They are simply there to support me for who I am.
In my life
I am blessed to have many extraordinary people in my life. I am finding the more I remain focused on connecting with these people, the more good stuff happens in my life. Here’s a few examples of the type of people I’m talking about:
- Rosie, the love of my life (of course) who wants me to be nothing more than the simple, fun Mike she married all those years ago. What I do or what we have is not what defines our relationship … it can simply be summed up by “love”
- Christopher Avery, who is changing the world by sharing himself so openly, and patiently being there for so many others when they show up wanting more
- Sophie, my coach, who regardless of what struggle I show up with continues to expect and call forward the best version of me without judgement
- Shelley my partner in Way of the Heart Retreat, who’s heart is so open that it makes it easy to just create something together
- My friend Dave Dame, who on his website says “I have cerebal palsy, but cerebal palsy doesn’t have me” … and that’s how he lives his life; more fully than a lot of people out there
Finally, there’s a special group of 18 people known as the Ferret Tribe, of which I’m a part of. We first met a couple months ago, in the hills of North Carolina during our first (of four) CTI Leadership Retreats. We come from all walks of life, all over the world, and all have one thing in common …. We want to live fully as we leave our mark on this world.
The Ferrets are the most extraordinary people I know. Each Ferret has their own story, their own struggles, and is working hard. It would be so easy in today’s world to caught up in our own story, yet when we need each other we are there for each other. I know regardless of what happens, they have my back with love. I also know when the day comes all the Ferrets have passed on from this life, we will have left our mark on this world.
Find your people
Start by defining what it means to be extraordinary in your books. Is it people who you find yourself guarded around, or is it people you can openly be who you are? Is it people you don’t want to share your failures with out of fear of being judged, or is it people who support you regardless of how successful you are? I trust you will know the right answers to these types of questions, but I encourage you to take the time to be concious of this.
Now think about the people you surround yourself with. What do these people around you expect you to be? Do they expect you to live up to some image of themselves? Do you change who you really are just to meet their expectations? Do these people align with your view of extraordinary?
I would encourage you to seek out the extraordinary people in your life. It’s not to say get rid of everyone else as I doubt you could anyways. However, in terms of who you surround yourself with these extraordinary people will have far bigger impact on your life. When you do this, I’m confident you will find life easier and great things will start happening.
Your people may not be my definition of extraordinary … and that doesn’t matter. I would offer that extraordinary means they want you to only be you. They love you regardless of who you are. They love you simply for who you are … regardless of your strengths, quirks, weirdness and mistakes … they just love you for who you are. They call forward the most powerful & beautiful version of who you are, and when you fall flat they’re there for you.
Thank you Mike. Exceptionally well-said. I love your action steps at the end.
And thank you for your acknowledgement.
I love this post Mike! Thank you for sharing it and bringing your full self to it. I was fortunate to be surrounded by you and other extraordinary people a couple of weeks ago, and it was so powerful. When I find myself inspired by others, it is never about their wealth, possessions, or status. It is about their focus to be themselves, and continuously improve to the be the best “them” they can be. And like you stated, it’s about them accepting others as they are, and not as something they or society want them to be. Thank you for continuously sharing your self, and for being one of my extraordinary friends!