Why be ordinary when you can choose to be extraordinary?

I always spend a little time reflecting on what I have achieved, over the last day, week, month.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like much! You know those weeks when everything seems to get in your way? We all have them!

I do at least know that I have aimed at being extraordinary whenever possible.

I am not an extraordinary person. I don’t have any special powers. I am no cleverer than anyone else. I’m not spectacularly good at anything! But, I am very good at pushing past ordinary and striving for extraordinary.

We can all do it. Ordinary humans do extraordinary things all the time. So what makes the difference?

To be extraordinary you have to accept that it is a personal choice. Anyone can choose to be extraordinary.

So how does it happen?
It starts with you. An ordinary person doing an ordinary job on an ordinary day. And, then you decide to do a little extra. To be something extra. Then you try a little more ‘extra’. Little by little, day after day, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

And that’s how extraordinary happens. If you aspire to become extraordinary, here are some pointers that can help you.

Find your extraordinariness
To become extraordinary, find your extraordinariness. Where do your strengths outnumber your weaknesses. What are the things that just flow and make you feel great? These will be the things that are easy for you to be extraordinary at.

Use every opportunity to do these things. They will be the things you really shine at and on which you can build. Get clear about what your strengths are, and don’t be afraid to stand out doing them.

Accept that you are great at doing these things and be grateful that you can fall back on these strengths when you are having a tough time.

Set your mind to it
Decide that you want to be extraordinary in whatever you are doing. Then, put your heart and soul into it. Always remember, you’ve got everything it takes to be extraordinary but you will need to put some ‘extra’ effort into some things.

Take action
When you have decided on being extraordinary you have to act like you are going to be extraordinary. You have to do something differently. You have to ‘be’ extraordinary.

And, if you ever struggle, ask yourself how an extraordinary person would have handled whatever you are doing. You can learn from their example.

You don’t have to do extraordinary things to be extraordinary. Just do ordinary things extraordinarily.

Spend some with yourself and contemplate. Make an effort to find your ‘extraordinariness’ every day and enjoy how that feels.

Set high standards
Most people underestimate what they can do – maybe you do too?. This is why we settle for something that is mediocre, average or ordinary. The fact is we are capable of accomplishing a lot more than we think.

Underestimating our potential often gets in our way of becoming extraordinary. To overcome this, set high standards. This will help you visualize a benchmark that matches to the extraordinary standard.

This will enable you to be your best. Enable you to push yourself harder, to go that extra mile where you wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

Do you know why extraordinary people set very high standards? Because even if they fail, they will fail above everyone else’s success.

Setting the bar high from the beginning is the way to become extraordinary.

This DOES NOT mean you should slip into being a perfectionist though!  That becomes crippling as I have already talked about before. Being extraordinary does not mean everything you do will be perfect. It will just be ‘extra’.

Stretch your comfort zone
The transition from ordinary to extraordinary can be uncomfortable. You may have to shift out of your comfort zone and do something you wouldn’t have done before.

It’s important to stretch your comfort zones to be your best.

Extraordinary people challenge themselves every single day. Even if it’s in the smallest things.  No one likes putting themselves into uncomfortable situations. But, extraordinary people will do it anyway. They know that’s the price they have to pay to be extraordinary.

Extraordinary people will  chose to do stuff that scares them. They will take steps into a world which is scary but never let fear come in the way of being extraordinary.

Visualise your future
One thing that is absolutely essential to becoming extraordinary is to have 100% conviction that you will be. If you can visualise yourself as one of the extraordinary, you’ve already won half the battle.

Don’t let anyone influence or manipulate you in to thinking that you can’t be extraordinary. Never be satisfied with anything but extraordinary. And learn to control your mind to tackle obstacles in front of you.

Train your mind to see the best in everything.

Anyone can become extraordinary – both in our personal and professional lives.

It comes down to asking ourself this simple question: What would an extraordinary person do?

Then, go and do it the extraordinary way.

Have I got this mastered? Of course not! I am very very ordinary a lot of the time. But, I do know I feel amazing when I strive to be extraordinary. I know how much better I feel about myself and whatever I am doing when I am putting that ‘extra’ into the ordinary.

Have a go and see what you can bring the ‘extra’ to today.

To share your extraordinary journey and to join like-minded people aspiring to be great leaders join the Positively Practical Leaders Network here:


When all the words just disappear ….

Whether you are writing a blog, preparing a presentation, or writing a report, we all have those times when the words just disappear.

Where do they go?

I have been battling with writing this blog all day. And, I had nothing to say. Nothing! I mean that is ridiculous. I always have something to say. I love writing. At work I volunteer to write reports because I love it so much.

But, sometimes the words are not there. I have nothing useful to say. Why would anyone want to read anything I have to share anyway?

The more you think about trying to write the harder it gets. Your fingers are poised over the keyboard but there is simply no connection. It’s as if the signal has gone down. There is a buffering symbol where words usually are. You can see the letters scrolling around in your head but cannot turn them into words. Even when you do light on a word or two you have lost the ability to form meaningful sentences.

This got me thinking.

Some days things will not flow. No matter how hard you try things don’t go your way. Even the simplest of tasks seem so much harder than normal.

Some days nothing aligns, nothing comes easy.

In the past I would push myself even harder on days like this. There was no way I would give up, despite it taking me three times longer to do everything. I would resist the urge to give myself a little space. I now realise that is never going to work for me.

Most of us have problems like this at some time or other. We all get those days when life doesn’t go the way we want it to go.

Sometimes the very best thing you can do is to step away. Accept that today is not going to be your day, and give yourself some breathing space.

Go and do something else. Leave that report, that difficult letter, the blog or content you promised yourself you would write today. Breathe, go for a walk, go and talk to someone about what is going on in their world.

A bit of distance, and allowing yourself to stop pushing at the closed door, can work wonders. As soon as you stop thinking about something, all of a sudden the answers come to you.

Stay positive

Just because you can’t do it right now, does not mean that you can’t do it ever. You know, deep down inside, that you are a capable, strong person. You must be – you wouldn’t be where you are if you weren’t. You have managed to do countless difficult things before. You will do difficult things again.

Even when everything is going wrong, your perspective is what matters. Look at the bigger picture. Look at everything you have achieved. Today is just a blip and does not have to dictate what happens tomorrow or even later today!

Top up your energy tank

Is it the end of the world if you don’t get everything done today?

Would it really matter if you went for a walk in the park or for a coffee with a friend and came back to your ‘to do’ list later?

Most of the time nothing is so critical that you have to do it right now. So stop trying and do something that will make you feel good and which will top up your energy reserves.

Within a couple of hours you will see things more clearly. You will be able to work through that ‘to do’ list, write that blog, or work out that tricky issue in much less time.

Some days you have to GO WITH THE FLOW. Accept and move on

As Scarlett O’Hara so beautifully puts it in Gone With The Wind, ‘After all, tomorrow is another day!’

PS – Even the tech wouldn’t play with me yesterday and the link to this blog just wouldn’t work. Here’s hoping today it does.

Thanks for reading.


Back to School? How to harness that ‘fresh start’ feeling in our work

How many of us are in ‘back to school’ mode right now?

New school year = new stationary, new shoes, new school uniform!

It has been too many years to mention since I left school. But, I still get that ‘fresh start’ feeling come over me as soon as we hit September.

There is a mix of excitement, anticipation, dread associated with it that I harness at this time of year.

For me it’s a time to reflect, review and refocus.

Now, I am certainly not perfect. So I usually start with a bit of panic.

OMG, only 4 months left of the year!

Where did the year go?

How am I going to achieve all my goals by the end of the year?

I am sure you know what I mean.

But, I have learnt over the years to move past that stage quickly. I used to get bogged down with the panic. Now I recognise it, accept that this happens every year, and know it won’t help me.

Too much indulgence in panic will simply lead me down the road of procrastination. My form of procrastination tends to not only waste time. It also costs me money as I can ‘procrasti-spend’ on shoes like you would not believe!

Now, I aim to quickly move on to the reflecting, reviewing and refocusing stages.

I start this by asking myself some key questions.

What have we achieved? It is sooooo important to reflect on what you have achieved and celebrate that. So often we have been so busy focusing on what is to BE done, that we forget to look at what has BEEN done.

If your work world is anything like mine you will feel a long way off achieving all of your goals for the year. The action plan still has a lot pending!

That’s probably because there are a whole host of other things that you have achieved. Were these even in your sights at the start of the year? I bet they weren’t!

In today’s work world very few of us have the joy of being able to control all of our priorities. Things change. You may have had no choice but to react to the unexpected. Don’t lose sight of all that stuff because it wasn’t on the plan at the start.

What are the issues? Are they the same or have things moved on? What needs to be the priority now? Has something new come onto the to do list which must take priority?

If so – what are we going to NOT do?

Some realism is vital. You CANNOT do it all!

Some things may have to be put on to the long list and picked back up later.

Or maybe priorities have changed so much that they can drop off the plan entirely?

You may need to do a little fact finding to be clear about where the priorities lie for the rest of the year. You will also need to build in some time for the next unexpected priority. You can put money on there being one!

What do I need to communicate to my team? And how? Getting the right messages across is key to keeping everyone motivated. Your team needs to be clear about the priorities for the next few months. They also need to understand why those may have changed. Especially if it has been necessary to long list a project which was dear to someone’s heart.

To achieve your goals you will need your team, and they need you.

I have developed three principles for good team planning.

* Involve

* Respect

* Inform

How can you get your team involved in reviewing and refocusing on your priorities for the rest of the year? You won’t be the only person with this fresh ‘back to school’ feeling. You can help others to channel that. This is definitely an occasion for getting your team involved in future planning conversations.

How can you celebrate the successes so far? Your team needs to know how well they are doing. You need your team to stay motivated and excited for the coming months.

How can you ensure that your team goals provide development opportunities for your team? Get people involved in not only the planning but the execution.

How can you balance what is important corporately with what is important to your team? Make sure you have achievable goals that will help to make life easier for your team. Take your colleagues ideas on board.

Respect those ideas. They might seem trivial to you but if they are important to your team then you need to take them seriously.

You need to reframe problems to see the potential beyond the current difficulties. How might a simple team idea both fix a team issue as well as feed into meeting a corporate priority. Invariable the corporate priority is going no where if you have a blockage within your team that will stop you moving forward.

Make sure everyone is clear about the final plan and the reasons for the decision that have been made.

Ensure that your team are clear about the responsibilities and accountabilities. Who is leading? Who will be involved? How will that impact on day to day work? These are the key questions to be answered.

Get feedback. You could be missing something that is completely obvious to someone in your team.

Finally, don’t make an industry out of this. Planning work is vital but doesn’t need to become a huge job and at this stage it is about reviewing and refocusing. You already have your action plan. You are only looking at it now from the perspective of ‘is this still the right thing to do’?

I am Mandy Singleton, I support new, aspiring and struggling leaders to break out and become the type of leader they have always dreamt of having themselves.

I give leaders at any level the confidence to be a human leader rather than a people manager.

My mission is to bring out the best in leaders, so that they can bring out the best in the people they work with.

I am super skilled at finding positive and creative solutions to problems. I have a hugely practical approach to any issue.

If this blog speaks to you, if these tips have help you to over come any difficulties I’d love to have you in my Positively Practical Leadership squad on Facebook. I aim to build a group of like-minded leaders, or aspiring leaders. A group where we can share problems and solutions in a safe space.