I hear over and over “Oh, my life is just ordinary.” Let me respectfully say, you suffer from a lack of vision. No life is just “ordinary.” It is a gift. Read on for five themes to help you take your life story from ordinary to extraordinary.
In the movie Dead Poets Society Robin Williams’ character John Keating challenges his students with a profound statement:
Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.
Life Lessons—character, honesty, ethics, how to survive an economic depression, how to survive a mental one. What is the most important thing you’ve learned? Now, think small, what are some “ordinary” life lessons that have shaped you? Need some inspiration? Read Robert Fulghum’s best seller:
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School.
People of Influence—parents, friends (enemies?), teachers, mentors, spiritual leaders. Describe your relationship, how you met, what they taught you. Remember, we learn from both positive and negative influences—both shape you. Think about it from both sides of the coin.
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world” Robin Williams’ character John Keating in Dead Poets Society—challenged a group of young men to rise above apathy and make a difference.
Who has challenged you to live intentionally?
Childhood Stories—what was yours like?, What made it unique? Typical? Experiences and people that stood out. Think about the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. While fiction, it takes a brief time period in a young girl’s life and expands, becoming something greater n the process that transcends all of life and continues to impact people to this day.
Travel Memoirs—travel grows us and changes our perspective, expands our world. Pull out photos and journals; think back on the places you’ve been and the people you’ve met. What have you learned? Think beyond international travel. Mark Twain was a master at gleaning great stories from travels and observations just within the United States. You can even micro-focus—adventures around your own state or a close-up look at a lifetime’s experiences within your own city. Ramp up your sense of the curious and really study the people and events that have shaped who you are.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Life Letters—often illuminating. These can be letters you’ve written or those sent to you. Life details and emotions expressed in these letters are a snapshot of a different time, a different you, that although past, have shaped who you are now.
Your life has been full of unique experiences that have changed you, challenged you, given you the skills and tools you need to survive and thrive. Your voice is there—if you haven’t found it yet, begin now.
Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out! –Keating
Your life matters. Make a difference. Share what you’ve learned—pass it on!