Every one of us sits around each day wishing we had more of something – a better job, greater health, more money or more meaningful relationships. Why are we wishing? Why aren’t we doing something about making changes for happiness?
After having a life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2016, I found myself being so much more grateful for the simplest things. Like showering or eating without help or loving my animals – to say nothing of the deep love I would have so missed from my husband and my family. So, for those six months in bed, I messaged myself with thoughts about how I would live my life when I could get up and around.
After what I experienced during the angiograms and from the pain from the blood vessel that burst, I knew I had to share my journey back to the more extraordinary life I live now with you, the reader. I am only one of 15 people in the world in the last 25 years who has survived this particular type of aneurysm. What did I learn from this amazing event? What can I share with you?
So, here are my thoughts on how to live a bold life of extraordinary joy:
Regardless of your struggles, you are learning to work through those challenges in your time and place. This life expedition is all about becoming totally free to be ALL of yourself. No one else can direct your path or your healing.
Spiritual Interventions and Personal Transformation
Many people have written about their near death experiences but few have come close to realising the transformative power they present us with. Sue Pighini is certainly the exception, delivering a memoir and guidance for personal transformation which proves wholly compelling and in sharing her life-transforming journey it is particularly notable for its broad strokes. She talks of angels and spiritual guidance but her words are refreshingly unconstrained by a particular faith. She simply and candidly shares her experiences and those of others she has met and by not dwelling on the relationship between organised religion and near-death experiences makes a powerful argument for love being the most emotionally, spiritually and psychologically healing power there is. One that transcends fractured belief systems and ultimately unites us. This alone is a reason to pick up a copy of Expect the Extraordinary and begin reading but Pighini goes beyond this to share her years of reflection and interpretation to create a template for personal and lasting transformation.
Well-written and powerfully uplifting Expect the Extraordinary is a guiding read that readers will return to again and again and is highly recommended.
You Can't Sail the Ship If You Don't Leave the Harbor
A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. –Grace Hopper
She knew something was wrong.
Culture creates prisons, and she was trapped inside one.
Teachers told her she wasn’t good enough. Professors told her the same, and she dropped out.
Her father begged her to reconsider.
But she wasn’t having any of it.
Her father had a choice. He could try to guilt her into college and be content with her taking the “safe” path. Many people went in that direction, and some of them were happy. Or, he could make the heart-wrenching choice of encouraging his daughter to find her own path.
If he simply gave her “freedom” or an easy path, it would be like giving her an inheritance. The easy way carried serious tradeoffs. The easy path carried diseases of comfort. He saw what those tradeoffs did to all the people around him.
People became automatons seeking greater levels of comfort with reduced amounts of personal risk. They became angry at any minor disturbance or lapse in comfort. They were ready to lash out at the systems of cooperation or their peers the moment they felt anyone was getting more than their “fair share.” The thought of his daughter becoming one of those comfort-craving zombies made him shudder.
He visualized her path in the short term, and didn’t want to see her struggle. But then he considered the long term, and thinking of her sacrificing her full potential was unbearable.
Freedom had to be earned, in order to be appropriately valued.
Individuality could only be forged in the furnaces of adversity.
He heard the passion in his daughter’s voice, the yearning for freedom.
So he presented her with a simple offer.
“You can skip college.”
The girl’s eyebrows raised. And her father knew what she wanted most… the family sailboat.
“And I’ll give you the boat.”
Her eyes lit up and a smile from ear to ear crept over her face.
“But…” sighed her father.
She was frozen in anticipation.
“You have to sail it around the world.”
She moved her lips to protest but he held up a finger.
“No protests and no negotiation. You want freedom, and that’s wonderful. But you’ll have to face a challenge in order to earn it. The ocean and the real world are the best teachers I know.”
The 26-foot boat glistened in the sun. In a mixture of fear, elation, and confusion, she spoke before she could think.
“I’ll do it.”
Her father’s heart sank but he knew he made the right choice.
At 18 years old, with no formal training, no GPS, and no crew, Tania Aebi took that 26-foot boat and sailed around the world. She became the first solo female sailor to circumnavigate the world. She took a sextant for celestial navigation, a radio direction finder, and a few other simple supplies and embarked on a year and a half adventure.
She faced storms, almost had her boat crushed, and came face to face with the ultimate enemy: herself and her mindset.
She returned. Unscathed.
Biologists have a term called neoteny. They use it to describe species they’re studying who retain juvenile features well into adulthood.
Many of our cultural institutions have become training grounds for neoteny.
More twenty and thirtysomethings live at home than ever before.
Americans in the top 1% of global wealth whine about how they don’t have enough. Meanwhile, they have pocket supercomputers more powerful than the ones NASA used to get to the moon. Instead of using them to become learning machines, hike across the country, or connect with like minds to build new things, they use them to play games.
Tania Aebi isn’t a household name. She’s not “rich” but she’s free.
Your name doesn’t have to become “known.” You don’t have to do what the crowd does. All of us can become free, unique individuals through adversity. There are safe paths always waiting for us. There are those who profess to “love” us by helping keep us in comfort. Their fear of the unknown can keep us from the adventures that make life worth living.
The challenge is to find and earn love from those willing to endure the pain of watching us struggle.
The struggle doesn’t have to lead to a million or a billion dollars. Most of the world lives on a few dollars per day. When Elon Musk was taking jobs from the Canadian unemployment office, he taught himself to live on $2 a day (hotdogs and oranges) to remove his fear of poverty. Culture has an endless buffet of fears and hamster wheels for you to run on. Escape them and kill your fears with direct real-world experience.
Take massive action, and then cut off any possibilities of regret. Face adversities and take full agency for your choices. Leave the safe harbor, but if you find yourself riding tumultuous waves or shipwrecked, don’t breathe a word of complaint. There are always gifts and lessons for those who take radical agency of their own lives.
Culture wants to keep you infantile. Those who are addicted to comfort have an allergic reaction when they spend time around those who can ensure uncomfort. Do you want to be addicted to comfort, or addicted to achievement?
While certain comfort-addicted neo-maniacs in the world worship “the coming machine singularity,” you can become a real singularity through facing and overcoming adversity.
You can become a unique individual if you find someone who loves you enough to allow you to endure challenges. It won’t be easy, and it will mean intense isolation from most people. But do you want to be like most people?
“It happens rarely, but whenever I do read a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch television, on a variety of topics, I find myself wondering, “How? How can this happen? How can people be so gullible?”
[I’m renewed with] gratitude to my father for having given me the chance to dodge full immersion in the homogenizing machine, and makes me more determined than ever to pass this gift of becoming an individual on to my own children.”
— TANIA AEBI, world record holder, first circumnavigation of the world by a solo female sailor
Don’t be afraid to leave the harbor.
Chad Grills is the founder of The Mission, your #1 source for accelerated learning. You can subscribe to their M-F newsletter here.
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What do you think? Was Tania’s father crazy? Wise? Or something else? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to Become the Best at What You Do?
By Benjamin Hardy
It doesn’t matter how good your strategy is, if you’re not skilled at what you do, that strategy won’t take you very far. As Jason Fried and DHH have said: “Many amateur golfers think they need expensive clubs. But it’s the swing that matters, not the club. Give Tiger Woods a set of cheap clubs and he’ll still destroy you.”
When you’re confident about what you do and clear about where you’re going, the right strategy will make itself known. Hence, when your “why” is strong, you’ll figure out “how.”
The how comes from the why. Not the other way around.
If you’re looking for how to be successful, you’re going about it all wrong. You’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And you’ll continuously be left searching for the next patch of land to find gold.
What will be left?
An open field of half-dug holes, three feet from gold.
If you know what you want and why you’re doing it, you’re not worried about the “gold.” Your security is internal. You aren’t worried about the outcomes because you already know they are coming.
For you it’s never actually been about the rewards. It’s only and always been about seeing how far you can go. About achieving the impossible. About never stopping.
Take everything external away and you’re still going to continue with the same intensity you always have. Give you everything — fame, money, whatever else — and it wont derail you.
Here’s how to become the best at what you do:
1. Work On Yourself, Not On Your Job
“Work hard at your job and you can make a living. Work hard on yourself and you can make a fortune.” — Jim Rohn
Your work is a reflection of you. If you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, stop looking for better strategies. Instead, look inside.
Are you currently the person who would attract the level of success you seek? Your outer conditions are a reflection of your inner reality. As James Allen has said, Your circumstances reveal you to yourself.
Where you are right now: that’s you.
If you want something different: improve you.
Most people focus on their craft or their “job.” That’s all well and good. However, you’ll get far more bang-for-your-buck by focusing on yourself.
20% of your energy should be devoted to your work.
80% of your energy should be devoted to rest and self-improvement. This is what fuels your work and makes it better than anyone else’s. Self-improvement is more than books and true rest is renewal.
While others are trying to improve their job, you’re continuously improving yourself, expanding your vision, skills, and abilities. This is akin to Stephen R. Covey’s 7th principle: Sharpen your saw. Most people are trying to chop down their tree — their “job” — with a dull saw.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” — Abraham Lincoln
Within a short period of time, you’ll have developed true mastery. Everyone else is trying to hone their “craft.” Don’t work on your job. Work on yourself.
When you do, your work will far exceed what other people are painstakingly producing. Your work will be cleaner, clearer, and more powerful because you’ll be more evolved as a person. Most people you’re “competing” against are an inner mess.
2. Consistently Put Yourself Into Situations Others Can Only Dream Of
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” — English Proverb
Your results aren’t a reflection of your talent. Lots of people have talent. Few people, however, are required to rise to a difficult challenge.
Most people never put themselves in demanding situations — situations that humble and scare you.
You need to put yourself into positions that create immense pressure. The kind of pressure that will either make or break you. This is how you purge out your weakness and small-mindedness. It won’t be pretty. But it will change you. And eventually, you’ll rise up. New. Changed. Better.
You need to be taking on challenges that require you to become so much more than you currently are. You need to put your back against the wall so you have no other choice but to produce.
This is how you evolve.
How do you put yourself into these situations? You initiate. You don’t wait for life to come to you. You don’t wait for the “next” opportunity.
You improve your current situation or “job” by providing actual value. You pitch ideas. You ask questions. You try and fail. You take on roles that require greater responsibility.
“Leadership” is available to everyone. You just need to assume a leadership role. You can do that right now, in whatever situation you’re in. You do this enough, and continuously pitch yourself and your ideas, you’ll create opportunities. You then maximize those opportunities and more will come.
Opportunities are like ideas. The more you use them, rather than let them simmer, the more will come. Most people sit on their ideas far too long and they become stale. Similarly, most people sit on their opportunities too long and they stop coming.
3. Don’t Copy Other People. Make Them Copy You.
“From this point, your strategy is to make everyone else get on your level, you’re not going down to theirs. You’re not competing with anyone else, ever again. They’re going to have to compete with you.” -- Tim Grover
If you’re still mimicking the work of other people, good luck.
If you’re trying to replicate the work and results of other people, what does that say about your own inner compass? What does that say about your motivations?
Are you just trying to find what’s working?
Are you looking for the “how”?
Do you actually know where you’re going?
If you’re following someone else’s tracks, where do you think those tracks will lead you? To your own destination or to theirs?
And even if you’d be happy with their destination, do you really think you could do it better than them? It’s their path. They’re driven by something deep and internal. You can’t get ahead if you’re always a few steps behind. If you’re always reacting rather than creating.
If you don’t know who you are, you’ll always try to be someone else. And thus, you’ll never be the best. Your work will always be a cheap imitation. It will lack the feeling that produced the work or the idea.
4. Stay In Love With The Process
“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” — Norman Schwarzkopf
The process — or the work itself — is all there is. Results come and go. And it’s never been about the results. Success is inevitable.
Success comes easy because it’s the last thing on your mind. You already know it’s going to happen.
The work itself — and becoming better and better at it — is what drives you. It almost doesn’t matter what you’re doing. It’s why you’re doing it that matters.
The “what” can and does take many forms. Don’t over-attach to one role. Whether you’re a leader, writer, athlete, parent, “employee” — the what doesn’t matter. Why you do it and subsequently how you do it is what matters. Hence, how you do anything is how you do everything.
When you are in love with the process, you seek feedback, mentoring, and coaching — even when you’re at the top of your game.
You surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. You avoid people who suck-up and only tell you what they think you want to hear. Those aren’t friends. They have an agenda.
Self-transcendence comes from collaborating with others who are driven by a greater and grander vision. When the whole becomes fundamentally different than the sum of its parts. When the work is the reward.
Going beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. Complete openness to the possibilities. Unless you’re continuously improving and working with better people, you’ll never realize this.
When you hone yourself, your work, and you produce — opportunities will come. They won’t help but come. Because you’re a magnet, pulling them in.
5. Never Forget Why You’re Doing This
“So many times it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive”
-- Survivor, Eye of the Tiger
It blows me away how often I see people throw their value-systems out the door in hopes for quick success. When I see this happen, I already know these people won’t succeed long-term. They clearly don’t have a “why” — or they forgot it. They don’t have an inner compass. Consequently, they don’t really know where they’re headed. It’s a destructive path.
The moment you start compromising, you won’t stop compromising. As innovation expert, Clayton Christensen, has said:
Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.
This, unfortunately, is more common than not.
It’s so common, in fact, that it’s almost expected. Hence, few people become the best at what they do. They end up becoming something far less.
Becoming the best is about never being satisfied with what you’ve done. It’s about continually improving who you are.
It’s knowing success will come because you know who you are and what you stand for.
How to Literally Anti-Age and Become Whoever You Want to Be
by Benjamin Hardy
In 1978, Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist performed an important study. She gave houseplants to two groups of nursing-home residents. One group was told they were responsible for keeping the plant alive and that they had autonomy in their daily schedule. The other group was told the staff would care for the plant and they were not given choices in their daily schedule.
After 18 months, twice as many people in the group given responsibility for their plant and schedule were alive than the other group. Langer took this as evidence that the present bio-medical model which views the mind and body as separate is wrong.
In response, she conducted a study to further examine the mind’s impact on the body.
In 1981, Langer and a group of graduate students designed the interior of a building to reflect 1959. There was a black-and-white TV, old furniture, and magazines and books from the 1950’s scattered about.
This would be the home to a group of eight men, all over 70 years old, for the next five days. When these men arrived at the building, they were told they should not merely discuss this past era, but to act is if they actually were their prior selves, 22 years ago. “We have good reason to believe if you are successful at this you will feel as you did in 1959,” Langer told them.
From that moment on, the study subjects were treated as if they were in their 50’s rather than their 70’s. Despite several being stooped-over and having to use canes for walking, they were not aided in taking their belongings up the stairs. “Take them up one shirt at a time if you have to,” they were told.
Their days were spent listening to radio shows, watching movies, and discussing sports and other “current events” from the period. They could not bring up any events that happened after 1959 and referred to themselves, their families, and their careers as they were in 1959.
The goal of this study was not for these men to live in the past. But rather, to mentally trigger the body to exhibit the energy and biological responses of a much younger person.
By the end of the five days, these men demonstrated noticeable improvement in their hearing, eyesight, memory, dexterity and appetite. Those who had arrived using canes, and dependent on the help of their children, left the building under their power and were carrying their own suitcases.
By expecting these men to function independently and by engaging with them as individuals rather than “old people,” Langer and her students gave these men “an opportunity to see themselves differently,” which impacted them biologically.
The Doctrine Of The Heart
Many Christians like to talk about Jesus, but they don’t want to be Jesus. As Gandhi once said “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Gandhi himself was more like Jesus than most Christians I’ve met. Gandhi even carried quotes by Jesus with him and read them everyday, and tried to live them everyday. Christians can learn a lot from the example of Gandhi.
Christians tend to be too wrapped up in doctrine. To the point of worshiping doctrine, rather than God. And it’s usually doctrine based on observance of rules, rather than love.
Christianity was not founded by Jesus Christ. People founded Christianity based on Jesus and the bible. Jesus himself created no religious institutions and gave no name to his teachings. And what we know about him is only partial. The bible we read is not in its original form. It was written after many years of oral tradition, and contains many forgeries.
If we’re going to follow a doctrine, let’s follow the doctrine of the heart. Isn’t that what Jesus really taught?
Addicted to Failure: Three Billionaires on How to Win the Game of Life
by Charles Chu
Not a lot of people know about Ray Dalio, and he prefers it that way.
Considered one of the “100 most influential people in the world” by Time magazine, Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, with $122 billion under management.
So he’s kind of a big shot.
But whatever image you have of Dalio, you are probably wrong.
Most of us have no clue what truly successful people are like. That’s something Dalio learned when he first started his hedge fund.
Here’s an excerpt from Principles, a brilliant (and freely available) manifesto of Dalio’s rules for life and business:
…the popular picture of success — which is like a glossy photo of an ideal man or woman out of a Ralph Lauren catalog, with a bio attached listing all of their accomplishments like going to the best prep schools and an Ivy League college, and getting all the answers right on tests — is an inaccurate picture of the typical successful person.
Instead, Dalio noticed that truly successful people have an interesting sort of humility:
Great people become great by looking at their mistakes and weaknesses and figuring out how to get around them. So I learned that the people who make the most of the process of encountering reality, especially the painful obstacles, learn the most and get what they want faster than people who do not. I learned that they are the great ones — the ones I wanted to have around me.
Take any self-made billionaire — or high achiever in any field — and you’ll find a large number of these “failure-loving” people.
For example, here’s a quote from another billionaire — Warren Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger:
“There’s no way that you can live an adequate life without many mistakes. In fact, one trick in life is to get so you can handle mistakes. Failure to handle psychological denial is a common way for people to go broke.” (From Tao of Charlie Munger)
Mistakes are the currency of success.
How are you measuring your life? Is it by the number of "toys" you have or the business successes you have experienced or the achievements of your family? What about you yourself? What measure do you have for true happiness? I learned long ago when I was a corporate executive that it wasn't the cars or houses or dinner parties that brought me joy. It was doing something in the world that made a difference.nehBut, it took cancer to jolt me into taking action. When I knew that I was going to leave my corporate job, I told everyone I knew. All of my friends ttold me about wonderful opportunities but I knew the decision had to come from inside of me. I found my new life by following my intuition when I met a new opportunity. Was it right for me? Did it feel good? Would it make a difference in mine and others' lives? My goal now is be an evangelist for "taking chances for change". Every time we listen to our intuition or messages from our heart, we embark on a new, small footpath of our life's course, and we open up ourselves to heart and mind expansion.
What are your dreams? What "lights you up"? What do you love to do that you would do even if you did it for free? Those are the criteria that ask my clients to consider when they are sitting on the fence about making a decision for change. Would you be happier or more stressed by making this change? There will many inside details that you will not know about this potential change, but your intuition (which resides in your heart) will guide you to embracing your wondrous potential.
Wishing you a life filled with moments that take your breath away!
What are we looking for in our lives when things aren’t going exactly the way we want? We are looking for solid answers. The doctors, your boss, your spouse, your family or your friends – do they have the answers? They may have some guidance but we have the answers – INSIDE. The “inside” is where our intuition lives – deep in our hearts. If we listen carefully, we can hear our answers. They are very subtle, so we have to listen carefully.
How do we know whether the answers are from our intuition/heart energy or from our egos? Our intuition is based on connection with the Universe and is always based on truth. The intuitive replies we hear inside of ourselves are always stated without emotion. If our ego is talking to us, we have emotion (fear, anger, desire) attached to the responses we hear. I believe we have angels protecting us, giving us our guidance in life through our intuitive “hits” (“Expect the Extraordinary: Angelic Messages, Spiritual Encounters and the Soul of Skye”). The most important aspect to remember is that we have to believe that Universal guidance is possible. These angels want us to connect with our heart/intuition in order to learn to “self heal” any physical, emotional or spiritual challenge. They will guide us if we just listen. They live right over our right shoulder and you can even feel them giggling and cajoling if you are very quiet.
What are your challenges? Can you believe that you have the answers within? Can you find a quiet place in your day to listen to the Universe talking to you? Meditating, walking in nature, playing with your dog or riding your horse can be your quiet place of connection. Each of these things will ground you in going inside. Nature’s energy is self-healing for you and Mother Nature in all forms gives it freely. If you trust the subtle answers you receive, you will gain such confidence in finding your life’s Path of Passion and the confidence you desire to make your choices for change.
“Expect the Extraordinary” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_22?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=expect+the+extraordinary+angelic+messages&sprefix=Expect+the+Extraordina%2Cstripbooks%2C1519&crid=35VX0W38TBY88
Sue Pighini is a an author and Transformation Life Coach who guides her readers and clients through a desire for greater reinvention of their lives. How do you live an extraordinary life? Sue accompanies you on your journey of change and creation in her blogs and books.