Exploring Human Potential

7 & 7: Ordinary vs. Extraordinary


What a person considers extraordinary is a product of what each of us considers to be “the best.” Awards from others do not replace one from yourself. If in your mind or heart, your effort or another’s is extraordinary, then it is. We are better at judging this in others than in ourselves, tending to undervalue as ordinary our efforts or contributions that are something more. Perfection? Maybe not. But more than ordinary, and worth noting with some personal satisfaction only to reinforce it in ourselves, to say, the middle of the road is not good enough, why not the best from me? When we do something fine, it outlives our immediate presence, taking on a life of its own. Do the best you can each day. That’s the way to sleep soundly each night without regrets. Greatness emerges when we are most unaware, in ordinary places on ordinary days from ordinary people through deeds, or words, or noble suffering. People rise to greatness in response to events that (for many different reasons – hesitation, fear, paralysis) have not yet drawn a response. People rise to greatness by arriving first, not out of competition but by instinct, an instinct of which they are dimly aware. For deep inside, on the border of the conscious and the unconscious, there are those who know that they were born for greatness, born to fly a little higher if not today, then perhaps tomorrow, if not in this world, then perhaps in the next.

I am easily satisfied with the very best.
Winston Churchill

Ask many of us who are disabled what we would like in life and you would be surprised how few would say, ‘Not to be disabled.’ We accept our limitations.
Itzhak Perlman

A man does not have to be an angel to be a saint.
Albert Schweitzer

The middle of the road is where the white line is, and that’s the worst place to drive.
Robert Frost

If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?
Joe Namath

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I come to the office each morning and stay for long hours doing what has to be done to the best of my ability. And when you’ve done the best you can, you can’t do any better. So when I go to sleep I turn everything over to the Lord and forget it.
Harry S. Truman

Men achieve certain greatness unawares, when working to another aim.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not a day passes over the earth, but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words and suffer noble sorrows.
Charles Reade

The biggest things are always the easiest to do because there is no competition.
William Van Horne

Once you say you are going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life, I find.
John F. Kennedy

If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it. Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Either you reach a higher point today, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher tomorrow.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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