How Extra Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary.

“Mary, wrap my shawl around him and lie him down here. He will be safe and warm for the night. I bet he will fall asleep right away.

The mom was nervous about her son’s comfort, but dad was right, the child went right to sleep.  

More on that scene later, but I hope to use it to explain how our work and its impact on others is hard to foresee and often might have consequences far beyond what we might imagine or indeed ever realize.

Do you accomplish extraordinary work every day?

It is hard to imagine being extraordinary in everything you do. The word extraordinary connotes spectacular or maybe best-in-class. Yet the root of the word extraordinary is a combination of extra and ordinary.  Extraordinary at its core means being more than ordinary. 

When put in that context I find the thought of being extraordinary much less overwhelming.

Being a bit more than ordinary in everything I do is not hard to imagine. I WANT to be more than ordinary in everything I do. I am quite competitive so in truth it is part of my genetic makeup.

I submit that this should be a goal for you- that all the work that you provide yourself or others be better than ordinary. To be extra ordinary on most tasks might not really be that hard. And if you can be extra ordinary in everything you do, then indeed you will be extraordinary.

If one exhibits a great attitude and a great work ethic, an outcome better than ordinary is almost a sure thing. Work ethic and attitude are two of the three legs of the skill-set stool; intelligence being the third. Maybe you do need a big dollop of intelligence to be spectacular in some efforts, but to be extra ordinary? I think not. 

I suspect if one conducts oneself with a great attitude and a great work ethic, one is likely to become very informed if not intellectually acute. Being informed takes one a long way toward excellence in performance. 

Sometime over two thousand years ago someone made a food trough which ultimately played a role in one of the most consequential events in the history of humanity. Our calendar dates from when it was used for a purpose not matching its original intent.

Was the guy a master carpenter, and was he even a guy? Maybe not though likely he was. The food trough was more likely a number of roughhewn pieces of wood thrown together not for looks but for utility. But of course we really don’t know. We don’t know if that trough was new or had been used for generations; if it was finely made or barely useful for its purpose.

The guy who made the manger of which I speak had no reason to suspect his trough would become the most famous crib, the most famous bed, in the history of mankind. Yet Joseph and Mary knew.

That this manger would hold the body and blood, the soul and divinity of Jesus.

That builder some 2000 years ago had no idea as he went about his daily work.

We don’t know what the outcome of our work will be. It is so hard to imagine the outcome that you might have on others. 

This can occur even when a situation others find memorable is, to you, run-of-the-mill.  Forgettable versus unforgettable is a matter of perspective. You never know when the helpful suggestion, the needed attaboy, will spur someone to accomplishments you will never learn about.

The turn of the calendar is a great time, a normal time, to assess ourselves and our place in the world. You will have just the one opportunity on this rock. Time is short. The older I get the more I see the wisdom is the adage “days are long, years are short”. 

We all are destined to dust, and all that will remain of us on this earth is our impact on others. Your impact is much more likely to be memorable if you are extraordinary and the best way I know for we common folk to be extraordinary is to be extra ordinary in everything we do.

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