12 Life Philosophies Extraordinary People Share
Over my years in entrepreneurship, I’m proud to say that I’ve met some amazing people. From brilliant young success stories, to iconic industry leaders (many through organizations like YEC, Kairos Society, EO, or CEO), I’ve made it a frequent mission to pick the minds of extraordinary people that stood out from the rest, regardless of their industry. Asking questions to mentors and successful people like, “how do you handle failure,” or “how do manage your day,” became routine, as it always provided me with unique and remarkable answers to reflect upon. For years, I absorbed these answers and applied them to my life and my business. It wasn’t until later — when I began writing down these answers — that I realized something:
Extraordinary people share similar ideals and philosophies.
Well, duh. I should’ve realized that sooner.
I realized these individuals lived by twelve similar philosophies that constantly reminded themselves to grow, no matter their age. Their limits of the human mind ultimately differed from the status quo and it showed by the way they lived their lives. These people made extraordinary a part of their daily routine and it is truly an inspiration.
So to share their success, here are twelve similar philosophies extraordinary people share:
1) Extraordinary people make the most out of their days.
Make the most out of your day as if it’s your last. Instead of saying “tomorrow”, say “today”. My dad always told me to not drag my feet in the morning, as it can form the tone of my entire day. After years and years of him telling me this, it finally hit me when I noticed my overall efficiency to get work done from a slow morning, versus a motivated morning. Wake up and remind yourself that you’ll only get one of these days you’re living. It’s a present from up above and, one day, you’ll wish you’d get another. That should put things into perspective on what’s important.
“If you live each day as it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right” — Steve Jobs
2) Extraordinary people have a unique sense of gratitude toward the world.
When you’re feeling upset, remind yourself to be thankful for all the things you have that others may not. Although you may be frustrated, look at the true scope of the problem. I recently learned in the past year to write down all the things I am grateful for. When I get upset, I just look at my list (I keep everything on my phone). Doing this seemingly easy activity has really helped me take a step back on my problem and analyze if I am reacting like I should be. Ultimately, I’ve become much more of a relaxed person and can handle problems much more efficiently.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
3) Extraordinary people often step outside of their comfort zone.
If you’re always doing the same things, you’ll always get the same result. When you see an opportunity to do something that can let yourself grow, think hard. Would you want to look back five years later and think what could have been? Never underestimate the opportunities you’re given to grow. From learning how to dance (used to be my fear; took salsa lessons to fight it) to speaking in front of a crowd of 500 (used to be my fear; I do this for a living now at speaking), stepping outside your comfort zone can make your life more meaningful and fun as you discover yourself.
“As long as you’re uncomfortable, you’re growing.” — Ashton Kutcher
4) Extraordinary people do not copy others; they focus on building themselves to be the best they can be.
Do not worry about others that may compete against you to the point you mimic their every action. This will only get you their results. Strive to be greater than that. Strive to be everything you can be while not using others as a limit for your success. While running ThreeSixtyEight, I am very aware of what my competition is doing, but I by no means have a strong rush to copy them. Rather, our approach is to listen to our clients and constantly find ways to better serve them. We should always set the limit on how great we can be.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you” — Steve Martin
5) Extraordinary people have a great sense of self.
In the first year of building the company I always tried to find ways to gain recognition through press and media opportunities (we used the college startup story quite a bit). What this did was build up a ridiculous amount of hype for my last startup Big Fish Presentations. This was unfortunate as we didn’t have the right team at the time and could never fully deliver the work we said we could do for our largest client at the time. This was the ultimate lesson of humility and helped me develop a sense of my own capabilities.
The key lesson of this is that if you say something, you better know how to back it up. Knowing who you are and your capabilities is essential to becoming great. Most people spend their lives trying to get recognition of other people and silencing the critics, but that comes naturally from knowing and applying what you’re great at. Instead of trying to please everyone else, make sure you’re happy with who you are first.
After all, no one but you has to listen and answer to yourself.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
6) Extraordinary people are masters of their emotion.
People can only make you feel bad if you let them. Knowing this is a key driver to your overall success, happiness, and decisions. While I’m not perfect at it, it was only recently that I learned to better grasp my emotions, I need to see my emotions on a macro and micro level.
The best tip I can give for managing emotions is to not jump on a problem hot headed. Look at your anger as a whole before responding. Is it really worth that much of your emotion? You can better make a call when thinking logically rather than emotionally. Doing exercises that allowed me to relax during times I was frustrated has led me to make better decisions in anything that I do: in life, love, and career. Easier said than done, I know, but it takes practice.
“A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure.” — Oscar Wilde
7) Extraordinary people keep fighting.
A great motivation for myself to get back up is the story of my father’s initial years in America [that's him above]. At age 16, he was shipped off to America during the Vietnam War. With no understanding of the English language, my father was forced to adapt to his new country.
At age 18, he became solely responsible for shipping off money to Vietnam to get his other siblings and parents into America. To do so, he got three jobs while paying for college. Yet, somehow, he made honor roll all four years of college.
At age 20, his mother passed away right before she came to America. This devastated him, as she was the reason he was in America. Initially, my father refused to leave my grandmother’s side. Seeing as time was running out, my grandmother had to do the hardest thing a mother could do.
On the day the boat to America was leaving, his mother told him to go to the boat pier with all the deportees and she would meet him there. She never showed. She tricked him and my father was pushed on board against his will by the crowd of people rushing to get onboard. That was the last act of love he remembers of her: giving up her son for his better future.
Rather than taking all these problems and letting them weigh him down, my father kept going and never gave up his mother’s wish for his own better future. Fast-forward to today and my father is a successful businessman, family man, and role model for the Vietnamese community. I never had to go through any of these problems. My father’s story of how he fought back at life is truly a great inspiration for anybody to put up their fists at any challenge life throws at them. It’s your choice to keep getting hit or to start fighting back. We all have hardships. It’s human and gives us an opportunity to grow.
“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” — Japanese Proverb
8) Extraordinary people are able to focus on what’s in front of them.
It’s very easy to get distracted. With easy access to so many digital networks such as Facebook and Reddit (a frequent site visited at our agency), it can be a challenge to stay focused. My advice is to do the hardest thing first every day, while writing your goals down in front of you to remind you of your priorities (for more productivity advice see here). In my early days, it was a morning ritual of mine to check Facebook (I do it still sometimes), but today, I always do my best to get out of bed and meditate at the beginning of my day. This changes the outlook of my day and my overall efficiency on handling that difficult first task. With some great practice, focus will become a habit that’s essential to your success.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” — Bruce Lee
9) Extraordinary people surround themselves with extraordinary people.
It’s easy to explain the common saying that your “network equals your net worth.” Looking at it outside of a business perspective, you can think that your net worth is your sense of self and who you are. Classic example is how my life turned out.
During my high school years, I didn’t do too many things I was proud of. I caused my parents a lot of stress. It wasn’t until after my high school graduation that my father said something I’ll never forget.
“You can’t even bring home one piece of recognition to make us proud?”
Ouch. That stung. But it was exactly the motivating factor I needed to evaluate my life choices and network. Long story short, I left the country to relax my mind and came back refreshed, breaking apart my friendships with everyone that influenced my negative line of actions. Selfish as it was, it was the best thing I have ever done.
Today, I surround myself with great people that influence me to be greater, and in return, I hope I influence them to be greater. It really is true that when you surround yourself with greatness, you yourself can great.
“Tell me who your heroes are and I’ll tell you who you’ll become.” — Warren Buffett
10) Extraordinary people understand why they do what they do.
Understanding why we do what we do is essential to the morale of our lives. At ThreeSixtyEight, we make it a big point for everyone to understand their purpose. Doing this greatly increases the morale when we get great customer feedback and keeps us together when overcoming challenges. We want to fulfill our greater purpose and invest emotionally into our work.
The key to figuring out your purpose is remembering what you’re here for and to not settle until you know. Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions until you figure out why you work so hard on what you do. Because once you figure out why, your work will become much more meaningful and better.
Bonus Motivator: Simon Sinek’s TED talk on starting with why.
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” — Thomas Jefferson
11) Extraordinary people are naturally curious.
While traveling, I make an effort to immerse myself to learn anything new from the local culture I am visiting (I actually learned how to make a awesome lobster dish in Vietnam). Being able to see the world and adapt to its environments, allows me to keep my mind young and refreshed for new ideas. Never stop learning. Always make efforts to learn something new, whether it’s from books, travel, or even conversations with random strangers. You are only as young as your mind tells you.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”― Mahatma Gandhi
12) Extraordinary People ignore the critics.
Everyone has critics. Despite winning awards, receiving national recognition, and working with huge companies, we still get our share of critics. Lessons to handle criticism? Listen to the people that matter. In a business aspect, it’s our clients. People that DESERVE a voice in our actions and future. As long as we can serve their needs and find greater ways to serve our existing and new clientele, we’ll always be on the right track. From a personal aspect, it’s learning the harsh reality that someone will always criticize your actions no matter what you do. The higher you succeed, the more your network’s true colors will show. Whether it’s jealousy or motivation, listen to those you know will tell you what you NEED to hear rather than what you WANT to hear, and you’ll find the greatest support network anyone can ask for.
“Don’t pay any attention to the critics — don’t even ignore them.” — Samuel Goldwyn
Throughout my roller coaster years of entrepreneurship, I’ve applied these philosophies to grow myself, and I’m confident you can too. I can personally guarantee that with a little bit of mental practice, these philosophies can help you develop winning habits in your life.
My most helpful tip is for anyone hoping to change their mindset, to catch themselves during times of temptation.
Other personal suggestions are:
- Remember that your short-term goals might not benefit your long-term goals.
- Don’t be afraid of asking questions.
- Always ask yourself if you can learn something from a new experience constructively.
So thanks for reading this long post. While it’s long, I made sure to give as much examples to help anyone change their mindset.
So what are you waiting for?
Go out and be extraordinary.