Have you ever been inspired by the amazing work of others, but thought you were too ordinary to be that great?
I recently had one of those exciting and discouraging moments while reading Love Does by Bob Goff.
The book’s promise to “discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world” lit my heart on fire, but halfway through I began to doubt.
How can such an extraordinary man claim that the ordinary person can be incredible?
Bob navigated a 25-ft sailboat to Hawaii with no previous navigation experience. He went rock climbing with his 10-year-old son in a snow storm – because his son wanted to.
Bob counts some 20 heads of state as his friends, freed 70 children from African prisons in one day, and sold his pick-up truck so he could fly half-way around the world to meet a foreign dignitary with his kids on one week’s notice.
He left his cell phone number at the back of his best-selling book so he could live his desire to be the most available person. “People don’t follow vision, they follow availability.”
Bob might call himself ordinary, but clearly he’s not. I could never do ANY of that stuff. I’m doomed to be ordinary.
But is Bob really that special, or do I assume he’s special because he can do things I can’t?
I’m not a lawyer and can’t imagine being one. Yet there’s nothing particularly special about being a lawyer.
Being a lawyer is ordinary.
I’m not a daredevil, and don’t care to try. Yet based on the number of “fail” videos on YouTube, there seem to be plenty of people out there who enjoy risking life and limb.
Being a daredevil is ordinary.
I like to have a plan and be prepared. Spontaneous people leave me in awe because being spontaneous requires so much strength and patience for me. But maybe Bob isn’t that good at planning.
Being spontaneous is ordinary.
The ordinary parts of Bob combine to create the potential for incredible action.
Bob flew to Uganda with no agenda, noticed some kids in prison, asked a few questions and noticed he had an opportunity.
He bought the Ugandan law books, brought the cases to trial and restored 70 innocent kids to their homes.
Ordinary Bob didn’t moan about what he can’t do and doesn’t have. He used his ordinary skills and resources to seize an opportunity to touch lives.
The main difference between ordinary Bob and ordinary me is that Bob chose to act.
If it’s possible for ordinary Bob to do incredible things, then it’s possible for ordinary you and ordinary me.
I bet you’re already doing some incredible things that you don’t think are that special because you take your ordinary skills for granted.
Your combination of ordinary skills, ordinary resources, and ordinary environment is unique.
You can touch lives in a way no one else can.
Sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t have that we neglect to use what we do have.
I’ve worried so much about failing to give my children a good art education that I’ve neglected to do much music with them – and I’m a musician!
Let’s embrace what is ordinary about us.
Let’s hold our heads up high, not to look down on people, but to see people clearly enough to discover how we can touch their lives.
I bet the more we practice, the more of an impact we’ll have.
Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world.
If we are confident in our ordinary abilities and open to our ordinary situation, we can lead secretly incredible lives where we make life for those around us a little better, a little less lonely, and a little more joyful.
“Secret” in this case is not exclusive, but humble. It’s likely that most people won’t understand or appreciate the work we’re doing. That’s okay.
One day our work might grow big enough to get noticed, but even then we’re likely to be misunderstood – no one will believe we are ordinary!