08 Jul What’s Your Story: Hints For Living An Extraordinary Life
“You Deserve To Live An Extraordinary Life!”
On May 9, 2014, The New York Times published an interview with Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype, a software security firm. In this interview he spoke about his life experiences and the “Search Of The Extraordinary.” One of his remarks, in particular, stood out for me:
“There are truly exceptional people in the world… So I try to seek out the truly extraordinary, because they exist. The difference they make in a business is so disproportionate to the average, it is just astounding.”
Wayne Jackson has had an interesting career. He did not just fit into the slot of CEO seamlessly. He earned it through trial and error, experimenting with other careers, moving fluidly from one experience to another, taking risks, and learning quickly from the consequences of his choices. He liked to take on new challenges and was determined to push through adversity. He did not accomplish this alone, but rather was quite responsive to the guiding hand of a respected mentor. Each time he stepped into a challenge, he threw himself wholeheartedly into it, taking on measured risks without worrying about doing things perfectly.
Wayne Jackson has great insights on life and success, and we can all learn a lot from his experiences, as well as from our own. Below are some hints for living an extraordinary life that I think you might appreciate:
- When you contemplate a new endeavor, spend more time imagining your goal and the rewards. Get a little excited and let your imagination soar. At that inevitable moment when you start to think “what if…” and begin worrying about taking on a risk, resist the temptation to be swayed prematurely by these worries. Our brains are hard-wired for this anxious way of thinking, presumably due to the 400 million-year-old need to watch out for predators, poisonous creatures and things lurking to eat us up! Being anxious comes naturally and takes no practice. Staying focused and positive, however, and taking action without a guarantee of success is something which takes constant practice. Take time to imagine, fantasize, and try on the idea for a while. Later, you can think about it more practically. Is the endeavor feasible? Worth the effort? Are you willing to take a chance even if you might fail?
- Make the extra effort, even when you are told, “No! Not interested.” If you are turned down for an interview or a sales presentation opportunity, request another meeting. Use it as an opportunity for self-improvement and probe about why you were not chosen or why another person was preferred. Show up at a time when it works for your prospect, not when it is convenient for you. Don’t allow ego and fear of rejection to become more powerful than your desire to go for the challenge.
- Experience the world! Try anything and everything! When I first graduated college, I wanted to enter graduate school to study Psychology, but my grades were average and my financial resources rather meager. So, I gave life a shot! First, I sold Hoover vacuum cleaners. I hated it! I would knock on doors, sometimes get invited in, and then spend 2 hours dumping dust, dirt and crap on people’s floors in order to demonstrate the mighty power of the Hoover! I lasted 3 weeks! Then off to Montgomery Ward Department Store to sell hardware and camp supplies. I lasted 3 months! Then, I got a great job as a research assistant working for a rather edgy and paranoid Peter Lorre-type character. We spent a year hypnotizing college students and taking hallucinatory drugs. I loved it! I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, finally finding home. One year later, graduate school… seven years later, I got my PhD and began my practice as a clinical psychologist… and I have been delighted in this challenge for over 30 years. So, try things on, experiment a little, even fail or hate what you are doing. Every endeavor has something to teach you. Be an extraordinary learner first, and extraordinary success will follow.
- Lastly, the higher the stakes, the greater the need for talent, skill, determination, resiliency and the ability to manage your fears. It is risky enough out there in the real world and you can’t afford to spend too much time in your head, ruminating about what could happen. Don’t confuse “what if…” thinking with pragmatic and thoughtful contingency thinking, which involves reviewing different possible outcomes and planning a useful response to each one.
Most people do not know where they are going or how to get there. Many new college graduates score rather poorly on visionary thinking and decision making. One key aspect to living an extraordinary life lies in your ability to “stumble” into things… stumbling and bumbling enough times until you finally discover what turns you on, what ignites your inner Wolf of Love and Passion, and quiets your Wolf of Anxiety and Anger.
If you want to learn more about living an extraordinary life, click here to order Moss Jackson’s book, “Navigating For Success,” and sign up for more blogs below.