Stop Being Ordinary – Choose to be Extraordinary!

Every now and then we hear about people who are doing extraordinary things. It could be a world leader saving millions of lives, a businessperson revolutionizing an industry, or even the person down the street helping to make life much better for underserved people in the community. When we hear of these extraordinary people, the vast majority of people think, “I could never do that because I’m just an average, ordinary person.”


In reality, we can all be extraordinary. The key is to realize that being extraordinary is a personal choice. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or financially struggling, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re old or young, or whether you fit into any other categories. Anyone can choose to be extraordinary.

Of course, the thought of choosing to be extraordinary can be overwhelming. After all, where do you start? What do you do? Do you write a best-selling book? Star in a movie? Start a business? How in the world can you be extraordinary?

The answer is: You take it one step at a time. The old saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step is so true.

Every day, make the choice to be extraordinary at whatever it is you’re planning to do. It’s a daily decision. For example, if you’re a student, you might ask yourself each morning, “What would an extraordinary student contribute today given the subject we’re discussing in class? What kind of questions would an extraordinary student ask instead of asking ordinary ones?”

Or suppose you’re a business professional and you are thinking of launching a new product. Before you take action, ask yourself, “What would an extraordinary business professional or CEO do to launch this product successfully?”

Or let’s say you’re a salesperson and you’re about to go on a sales call. Before you meet with the prospect, ask yourself, “What would an extraordinary salesperson do? What would the very best of the best say to the prospect?”

Take a few minutes each day to think about what an extraordinary person in your situation would do. Then, take that action rather than what you were going to do. Soon, people will look at you and think, “Wow! That person is extraordinary!”

Nothing is Beyond Your Means

Sometimes when you ask that question—“What would an extraordinary person to do?—the answer you come up with is something you feel is beyond your means, whether it be financial, intellectual, physical, or otherwise. In these situations, you need to lift the bar on yourself.

Realize that most people underestimate what they can do—probably even you. The fact is that we are all capable of doing so much more than we think. For example, even if you are not blind, you have probably touched Braille at some point in your life. If you haven’t, go to an elevator and feel those bumps on the keypad. What did you think the first time you touched Braille? You probably thought what every other seeing person thought: “How can anyone read this? It’s just a bunch of bumps!”

But blind people can read those bumps quite well. Do they have different fingers? No. Do they have a different sense of touch? No. They simply developed something within themselves that might seem impossible to you, but it’s really not.

Of course, this example is simple in that it focuses on just one of our senses. In reality, we’re all underutilizing all our senses, as well as our brain and our capabilities. And when you think you can’t do something, you usually don’t even try. That’s why you need to ask yourself, “What would it take to do it?” not “Can I do it?”

Realize that you are more than you think you are. You’re capable of more than what you think you can do. Whatever limitations or challenge you think you have, none of them are keeping you from being extraordinary, so skip them. In other words, if you think you don’t have the money to be the extraordinary person you want to be, skip the money issue, put it to the side. That’s not the real problem anyway. Ask yourself; “What would it take to do this without using money?” By skipping what you perceive as the problem or limitation, you are free to discover what’s really holding you back. Therefore, forget about what you think is the problem. If that issue simply didn’t exist, what would you do to be extraordinary in your life or your business? Once you see what’s really holding you back, you can find a way to get around it or to come up with a better solution.

Choose Your Future

It’s time to raise the bar on yourself and see what you really can do. It’s time to be a better version of yourself—to be extraordinary. So ask yourself, what would it take to be an extraordinary boss … salesperson … engineer … student … doctor … teacher … wife … husband … parent … sibling … friend?

Every day you can do extraordinary things in both your personal and professional life if you just ask yourself the right question. You have the power to elevate your life and the lives of those around you. It’s simply a matter of identifying what an extraordinary person would do, and then doing it. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself being extraordinary. It’s a daily choice. Give it a try now.  Ask yourself; “What would an extraordinary (insert your job title) do today?”  Then go do it!

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DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of Flash Foresight.

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  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
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The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?

But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.

What's dead may never die, it seems

The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.

BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.

The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.

As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.

The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.

"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.

An ethical gray matter

Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.

The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.

Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.

Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?

"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."

One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.

The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.

"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.

It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.

Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?

The dilemma is unprecedented.

Setting new boundaries

Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."

She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.