8 Rare Things The Most Extraordinary People Do — That Normal People Don't

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Being normal is my greatest fear.

And it’s not an ego thing. It’s just that I’ve been given this one life, and I’ve been given a ton of opportunities, so I guess it’s only fair that I try my best to make this life great. But the shift from ordinary to extraordinary is not just one big shift, it’s made up of a lot of little shifts. 

And that’s what I do. I spend my energy and time in an attempt to understand these subtle shifts. In this article, I want to share 8 of such shifts. Let’s dive in.

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Here are 8 rare things the most extraordinary people do — that normal people don't:

1. Sacrifice good for the great

There are a lot of good things in life. But all things have a cost. If you spend all you have on every good thing that comes your way, you won’t have the freedom to spend what you have on great, extraordinary things.

  • For instance, if you buy everything you feel like buying, you won’t have the financial freedom to buy things that will really elevate your life.
  • If you spend time with every friend you have a decent time with, you won’t have time left to spend time with the friends you truly feel alive with.
  • If you eat every single thing that tastes good, you won’t have the caloric freedom to eat food that you truly love.

Simply put, you need to start sacrificing good so that you have the financial, temporal, and caloric freedom for the great. Say yes only to stuff that induces a "Heck yes!" from within. To all other things, say no.

2. Do stuff on days people opt-out

Amelia Boone is an ultra-runner who says that she loves doing her training runs when it’s super cold or when it’s raining because the competition is probably opting out.

And that’s such a great mindset shift.

When an obstacle arises, the first response is to opt-out. And it even seems reasonable to us. But that’s what everyone is doing.

If you can train yourself to love doing stuff when the people around you are opting out, you can separate yourself from the average.

3. Be asymmetrically strict — toward yourself

Here’s what most people are like — they’re asymmetrically strict but with others. Meaning, they expect others to not make any kind of mistakes, but they’re pretty lenient or tolerant of their own flaws and mistakes.

Be the opposite. As Marcus Aurelius said, "Be strict with yourself, and tolerant of others."

  • Be the most punctual person you know, but forgive people for being unpunctual.
  • Be the most reliable person you know, but expect others to be unreliable.

This is not to say that you should not care about what kind of people you surround yourself with, but just that instead of expecting others to be perfect, expect them to be flawed.

And instead of being tolerant of yourself, be strict.

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4. Embrace constraints — instead of using them as excuses

I’m in medical school, and we’re starved of time. So naturally, day in and day out, I hear how people say they have no time to study. I hear them complaining that they don’t have time to go to the gym. And I get it.

But when you stop seeing your constraints as valid excuses and embrace them to reinvent yourself, everything changes.

For instance, I didn’t want to quit gym or writing because of the amount of studying I have to do. So I asked myself, how can I do it all? And then, answers poured in.

I read several books on learning faster, and now, I like to believe that my four hours of studying are equal to an average person’s eight. So that frees up 4 hours of time in my day. And I can do it all.

But this happened only when I stopped seeing my constraints as excuses and embraced them instead.

At first glance, obstacles might seem uncomfortable, but truly, they’re blessings in disguise. Do you have the courage to see them that way?

5. Celebrate your errors in judgment

Here’s what a normal person does when they’re wrong about something. They argue — with themselves and others — to deny their error in judgment, and at all costs, avoid accepting that they were wrong.

Be the opposite.

When you’re wrong, be happy about it. Because next time you can be right. The person who denies they were wrong, will be wrong the next time as well.

As Ayodeji Awosika says, "Most people want to be right. Smart people want to get it right."

These days, I get low-key happy when I realize that I’m wrong. Because then I understand how to be right the next time. The opportunity for growth excites me.

Hence, instead of despising them, learn to celebrate the words "I’m wrong" and they’ll help you grow.

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6. Be good at suffering

I believe that the whole idea of suffering is upside down. Most people are trying to resist suffering, which is, of course, a futile exercise.

As the Buddha famously said, "Life is suffering." What we can instead learn to do is choose our suffering.

  • For instance, I choose to suffer in the gym, instead of suffering in front of the mirror.
  • Or, I choose to suffer at my desk in front of my books, rather than on a test.

We’re all told to chase happiness, and hence, we think it’s our duty to resist suffering.

But I believe what we instead need to chase is peace. And you cannot attain peace without going to war with yourself, without making yourself suffer.

Because when you make yourself suffer, by challenging yourself or doing stuff you fear, you find that you can take on suffering. You become good at suffering. And that delivers peace.

7. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer

Most people are like thermometers. If the energy around them is negative, they become negative. If the people around are restless, they become restless too.

What you want to be is a thermostat instead. Meaning, you stick to your desired energy of positivity, calmness, and grit, no matter how negative, restless or lazy the people around you are.

Simply put, don’t mimic people’s bad energy. Instead, stick to your good energy, and in fact, help spread your own energy around.

8. Be antifragile

Ibrahim Hamato is a Paralympic table tennis player, despite losing both his hands in a childhood accident. (He holds the racket in his mouth).

Notice how I bolded the word "despite." At first glance, you would think that losing both hands is a great disadvantage. But Ibrahim Hamato is famous not because he is a table tennis player, but because he is a table tennis player with no hands.

Ibrahim’s story is a great example of antifragility: a concept by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

  • Fragile things break down in chaos.
  • Anti-fragile things gain from chaos.

Ibrahim lost both his hands in the accident, but he gained much more than he lost because he chose to be antifragile.

What’s your limitation? And how can you be antifragile, and make that limitation an advantage?

You’ve got one life. And since you’re probably reading this on a smartphone, you’re privileged enough to learn anything you want for free.

You’ve been blessed with a life that has incredible opportunities. Be grateful for that and make the shift to extraordinary today.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.