When life gets thrown at us, a day at a time, we usually experience the ordinary.
When we interact with each other, or talk to colleagues, we do little out of the ordinary. When we interact with our teachers, our students, our service providers, our employers, our representatives, or our governments we rarely experience the extraordinary.
Nothing in life is mandatory. It is a choice. Your choice. It is no surprise, then, that our interactions default to the ordinary and our resulting experiences are rarely extraordinary.
Have you noticed, however, that it just takes that little extra to make the ordinary extraordinary?
There are just seven habits that can transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.
The habit to envision common purposes beyond our own individual purposes adds the extra to the ordinary.
The purposes you seek to achieve draw you into interactions with others. The relationships (or systems), shaped by these interactions, are ordinarily driven by the “practical” reality of your own selfish needs. When, however, you dream and share your visions of common purposes with those you who you engage in relationships with, you add the extra to the ordinary. When you see your relationships as they can be, when you visualize life as it should be, you take a step away from the ordinary. When you share your vision and let those you enjoy relationships with experience the vision in their minds, and the transformation that the vision implies, you initiate the extraordinary.
Martin Luther King’s vision, where our relationships are not driven by the purpose of segregation by color but by our character, made the interactions of systems driven by his vision extraordinary. It is your vision of the common purposes that will make your relationships extraordinary.
The next habit that adds that extra to the ordinary is the habit of initiative.
When you practice the habit of initiative, you rarely wait for others to make the first move. You walk the first step. You act first. You take initiative. You value the purposes that brought you together in a relationship with those with whom you interact. You recognize the importance of making the move, of changing the conditions through your actions to accomplish your common purposes. Without initiative accomplishing the common purposes would not be possible.
With every initiative comes risk- the risk of being wrong, the risk of moving from a status quo, the risk of driving change. You are extraordinary when you take initiative.
It was initiative to seek conversation with her representatives in the Swedish Parliament that made Greta Thunburg’s interaction extraordinary. Similarly, it is your initiative to engage in a common purpose with someone that will make you extraordinary.
The habit of clarity is the next habit that adds extra to the ordinary.
When you recognize all with whom you interact in a relationship, and the purpose you serve for them, you practice the habit of clarity. With clarity you articulate your commitment to the relationship. You express the value you place in serving the needs of those you interact with. Without clarity, commitment to the common purpose would not be possible.
Clarity makes purpose explicit. Clarity reduces ambiguity, opaqueness and makes the intentions extremely clear and transparent. With clarity comes a promise. The promise to serving the needs of those you interact with. You are extraordinary when you have clarity.
Peter Drucker helped an American missionary hospital to have clarity when he helped them to articulate their mission to “provide assurance to the afflicted”. Similarly, your clarity about your mission in your relationships makes you extraordinary.
The habit of focus adds that little extra to the ordinary.
When you practice the habit of focus, you do not deviate from the common purpose, from the only thing that really matters in your relationship. You stay on attentive to that important intent and do not get distracted with other purposes. Without focus, the common purpose would be abandoned in favor of other purposes that catch your momentary fancy.
Rotary International practiced focus on the common purpose to eradicate polio. When your attention on the common purpose you share in a relationship is not distracted by other purposes, you become extraordinary.
The habit of persistence is the next habit to add that little extra to the ordinary.
When you practice persistence, you are not distracted or defeated by adversity, delays, and distractions. You recognize that all common purposes encounter challenges. You refuse to give up under adversity. You are not put off by delays. You are not distracted by other relationships and purposes. Without persistence, the common purpose would be replaced by individual purposes that allow capture your attention.
Dr. Rajendrasingh, the Waterman of India, helped the communities to persist in their common purpose to restore and rejuvenate the rivers in Rajasthan. When you persist in your engagement with those you interact with in a relationship without distraction from your common purpose, you become extraordinary.
The habit of openness adds that extra to the ordinary.
When you are not closed in your thoughts and opinions you express openness to new experiences. When you are open, you are willing to examine the purposes that bring you together in relationships. When you are open, you can seek clarity in a dialogue with those with whom you interact in a relationship. Without the habit of openness, you cannot expand the possibility space of your relationships to discover and experience the common purposes you may seek.
Mohandas Gandhi practiced openness by taking on opposing perspectives. Swami Vivekananda practiced openness by even giving up his identity so that his participation in new relationships did not carry the burden of his past or other relationships. Many spiritual practices encourage openness through meditation and detachment. When you practice openness in your interactions in your relationships, you create extraordinary relationships.
The habit of inclusion is also a habit that adds the extra to the initiative.
When you include all who share the common purpose in your interactions you add the little extra to the ordinary. When you bring people together, even ones who yet do not understand the common purposes you share, you add that little extra to the ordinary. When you seek inclusive conversation, you add to openness and create extraordinary relationships.
Bernie Sanders sought inclusion by creating a movement of the people in his bid for the US presidency. He sought dialogue to seek the common purposes in the various relationships the voters shared each other and with businesses. When you include those you interact with in your efforts to bring clarity and focus in your relationship, you create extraordinary relationships.
Those who practice the habits to add that extra to the ordinary are leaders. They recognize that the outcomes they experience result from their interactions, not from the positions they occupy. They recognize that leadership is about accomplishing the common purposes in the relationship, or the system. They recognize that interactions are not about short term, they are about the lifetime of the systems that bring us together to pursue our common purposes.
May you find that extra to add it to the ordinary.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or organisations that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph