Recently I was speaking at a conference, and one of the other speakers quoted Maya Angelou, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” And I got to thinking that is a really great thought, IF you could convince yourself to let go of the low expectations you have placed on yourself, and then consider how working to be amazing would be a game changer for the rest of your life.
What I have seen is that many people work and strive for “normal” (whatever that is), and in doing so, they give just enough instead of knocking it out of the park.
Just enough, or in this case, being normal, isn’t going to give you a leg up on the competition, nor is it going to help you to first place. In fact, it might even leave you on the sideline, when others have figured out that being amazing is what it will take to win in the marketplace of ideas, opportunity or business.
I fully understand that it is the norm to be…normal; that being said, if that is all you strive for, don’t be disappointed when life passes you by, and it will pass you by in the most mundane, boring way.
I am pretty sure that at this point in your life you’ve perfected “normal.” Most people have. Now, I wonder, what will it take for you to go to the next level? The level of “amazing,” or I will use the word “extraordinary” to describe what I am hoping you will consider reaching for in your amazing life. The dictionary gives this definition of extraordinary: very unusual or remarkable.
Oh, to be amazing, to be considered as someone who is excellent in every way, and in the process of becoming amazing, we blow past the common, everyday, small success of being normal and embark on the path to being extraordinary and remarkable.
As a speaker coach, I encourage my clients to be amazing speakers by using the stories of their past that have made them into the person they are today. I believe we all need to understand that our path to success, with all its twists and turns, heartaches and joys, bumps and bruises, for the most part, is what has made us successful and amazing by knocking off the rough edges and polishing us to perfection.
I know we’d all like to bypass the pain and hurt and loneliness, but it is in the pushing through the tough days and years that we are refined into the person we were born to be.
And this brings me back to what has been my theme since I first began writing, which is that you were born to be amazing. Normal is for others. Amazing is for you.
Now, how you get to amazing is the journey that you will need to traverse through the “normal” years as you find your path forward.
Listen, it’s easy to be normal. To go along, to get along, to do only what is asked, to get by, to cover the bases and to cover your backside. But, wait… is that really how you want to be remembered? Is “getting by” the reputation you want others to think about when it comes to you? Do you really want to be known as the Peter Principle person who rewards mediocrity because you’re not going to do more than the next guy or gal on the company roster? I hope not. Remember, normal is for others…amazing is for you.
That is the whole idea of the quote for today, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” This is a great reset of your life and your career if you will just grasp the magnitude of what could be; if you’d step out of your comfort zone and into the fast lane.
I readily acknowledge that many wonderful people are happy to drive, live and stay in their comfort zone, and until they get a glimpse of what could be, they will not be moved by my words or wishes. Now that being said, if I could lean on them to look down the road and perhaps show them that the “normal” life they are choosing to live is beneath their opportunities, perhaps they would give “amazing” a chance. Alas, I can only try to convince or cajole or capture their imagination as to what could be instead of “always trying to be normal.” Remember, normal is overrated by those who don’t want to do anything more; amazing is what happens when you open yourself up to the opportunities that are all around you.
This week I am teaching at the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. I am past president of the Board and have been a trainer here for many years, and the one thing I love about this engagement is this: Most everyone who walks through our hallowed doors at the Yale Law School, where we hold our sessions, leaves as a different person. In five days, we open the world of politics to aspiring women who want to do good by doing well in their city, state and nation, and for our international clients, in their home countries.
We are a bi-partisan program, and we believe that if you can’t cross the aisle here to work on projects and learn to think and discuss and debate in a civil manner, you will not be able to do it when you are elected. So we teach the foundations of how to run and win, and we educate, encourage and I will say inspire these women to push past normal and work to be remarkable and amazing leaders.
How about you? When was the last time you pushed yourself past normal to be amazing? And if you have not done that yet or have not pushed yourself in years, then let me ask you why?
Is fear holding you back? Really, at this age and stage in your life, you are going to let the lie of fear have control over your future? If you’ve given in to the lie of fear in your past, don’t you think it’s about time you took control and pushed past normal to amazing? I do. I have in my own life, and have never regretted the time, energy and devotion it took to make the change for the better. In fact, it came down to the simple question I asked myself and it was this. Why not me?
Why not me, to be the one that sets the standard for others to follow? Why not me, to be one that raises the bar for excellence in speaking and teaching? And, finally, why not me, when I fully believe I was made for more than living a normal life (whatever that is), when extraordinary, amazing and remarkable is more my style…in fact, it is my calling?
As your friend, let me encourage you to step back and view the rest of your life from the vantage point of where you are today. And then seriously consider what would it take for you to change your thinking for the next chapter in your life–the extraordinary, amazing and remarkable chapter that is waiting to be written by you, the one author who can imagine what “amazing” could be.
My theme for today is a challenge, especially if you have not seen yourself for the amazing person you are. Let me encourage you to stop and reflect on the simple truth that there is no one in the world like you. Seriously, there is no one exactly like you. Why do you think that is? I think it is because you are fearfully and wonderfully made and there is a plan for your life, but it will only come about when you realize that normal is for others…amazing is for you. So push past your fear, and step boldly into the light. And understand this truth, that “if you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”