Often in my life I’ve thought about what it means to live an extraordinary life. If you’re like me, when you think of this taboo phrase, your mind immediately jumps to being famous, being rich, or solving some massive global problem. But the reality is that there are many extraordinary things within the reach of seemingly ordinary people like you and me. These opportunities lay hidden in our countries, cities, companies, neighborhoods, or realms of influence.
But here’s the million dollar question: What does it look like to do something extraordinary and significant in our real, non-fairytale lives?
I recently read an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook about the looming iWatch. When he was asked about how Steve Jobs’s legacy is continuing on at Apple, what he had to say really caught my attention about everyone’s potential to do something significant. Cook said,
Steve felt that most people live in a small box. They think they can’t influence or change things a lot. I think he would probably call that a limited life. And more than anybody I’ve ever met, Steve never accepted that.
He got each of us [his top executives] to reject that philosophy. If you can do that, then you can change things. If you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world.
That was the huge arc of his life, the common thread. That’s what drove him to have big ideas. Through his actions, way more than any preaching, he embedded this nonacceptance of the status quo into the company.”
Disclaimer: I’m not condoning Steve Jobs as a great person. I’ve personally heard first-hand from someone (Guy) who worked very close to Steve, and said he was not a nice person. There are great people and there people who do great things; one doesn’t always coincide with the other. But there are lessons great people can learn from Steve about doing great things.”
Here’s My 3 lessons from this conversation…and i’m mostly preaching to myself here.
1) Reject the limited life
Don’t put yourself in the box of your background, experience, rejection, or even success. Don’t allow the things you’ve done – good or bad – to decide what you are limited to for the next steps of your life.
2) Embrace your Limitless-ness even when it’s hard:
Let me remind you that Steve Jobs started out as no one. He worked hard. He wasn’t afraid to rock the boat or present ideas. He failed a whole lot. And only after years and years of dedication was he able to return to Apple (the company he started) and propel it to what it is today.
3) Refuse to Accept the Status Quo
Don’t give in to the lie of folklore that tells you everything has to be, now and forever, the way it’s always been. Things can change, but it has to start somewhere. It can start with you, and the sooner it starts the better. Consistently and respectfully challenge the norm.
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We don’t all need to go put on a black turtleneck and blue jeans to make an impact on a business, a life, or the world – I sure hope not anyways. But we can choose to live above the status quo. To challenge things we see fault in. To makes things better wherever we have influence to do so.
So here’s to hoping that we can do something significant. And according to Steve, he thinks we can change the world. I do too.
Over to you! What do you think it looks like to affect change where you personally can?