5 Mentalities That Will Make You Extraordinary
Using the mental tools that have guided extraordinary individuals on their journey towards greatness.
All of us can become extraordinary, but most of us don’t know how. At a certain point, once you’ve studied and observed enough successful figures and have put in the work to display some tiny flashes of greatness yourself, you’d realize that you only need to implement a few core changes to your mindset to begin setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack.
With the help of those who have inspired me to this day — notably the late, great Kobe Bryant — I was able to identify five mentalities we can all use to start building a better version of ourselves every single day.
Get Yourself Some Thick Skin
One thing about being extraordinary is that you’re always ahead of the pack:
- You spot things others don’t.
- You think outside the box.
- You’re ahead of your time.
That can also make you feel lonely in many ways:
- You’ll be the contrarian swimming against the current, forced to convince people often.
- You’ll definitely be doubted often.
- You’ll probably have few supporters to begin with.
All of that can make you may feel there are extra eyes on you and your failures. This is why you need thick skin — to not only survive, but thrive and protect your dream through all of that noise.
And how do you develop thick skin?
By understanding that you ain’t shit. You’re not that important. It’s not about you.
Because what you’re ultimately trying to achieve down the line is magnitudes bigger than your current failures or how people may perceive you.
Think about Kobe Bryant as an 18-year-old rookie, playing in a season-defining Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Western Conference Semifinals. Within the final 10 minutes of the game, Kobe had the balls to attempt four high-pressure shots and completely missed the hoop on all of them. Four consecutive airballs is the type of embarrassment that could’ve easily haunted most NBA players for the rest of their careers, but not for Kobe…
Here’s Kobe explaining how he got past the nightmare blunder:
“You gotta look at the reality of the situation. You gotta get over yourself. It’s not about you. You’re not that important. You’re worried about how people may perceive you. You’re walking around and it’s embarrassing because you shot five airballs. Get over yourself.
And then after that it’s, ‘Why did those airballs happen?’ So I look at it with rationale, and say, ‘OK, the reason why I shot airballs was because my legs weren’t strong enough. Well, next year they’ll be strong enough.’”
Kobe Bryant went on to become the NBA’s all-time leader in game-winning shots made.
Extraordinary people are extremely capable at separating themselves from their body of work. They take their body of work seriously, not themselves. They’re willing to humble and improve themselves through embarrassing moments and hard-to-swallow failures for the sake achieving extraordinary things.
Stick to the 1% Rule
The simplest one here — understanding and leveraging the power of compounding.
Start with $100 on Day 1. If you grow that by 1% for a day, you’ll have $101 by Day 2…meh. But if you maintain the 1% daily growth, you’ll have $3778 after Day 365 — an annual growth of 3678%.
That’s the power of compounding, and it can be applied to just about anything in life, from investment returns to knowledge accumulated, skills developed, and habits formed etc.
1% better every day = 3678% better in a year.
So, whatever you choose to pursue, ask yourself: “Do I want to be 37 times better in a year’s time?” If the answer is “yes” (it better be), then all you need to worry about is being 1% better today, and repeat the same thing tomorrow.
Do note that the numbers used here are rather arbitrary. What I hoped to demonstrate is that maintaining consistent progress over time is infinitely more important than how much progress is achieved at any one time.
With that being said…did you get your 1% today?
Harness Your Inner “Actor”
Like it or not, we are all a bunch of actors with different roles to play at different times.
When I’m in school, I have to play the role of a great student. When I’m working in a company, I have to play the role of an excellent employee. When I’m in the gym, I’m an unchained beast.
For every moment of our lives, the name of the game is to know the appropriate character needed and play it as well as we can. Most of us aren’t aware of that, some of us are, but only a few of us understand the power of harnessing that inner “actor”.
This principle has been preached over and over by speakers of wisdom in real life (e.g. my father’s Dhyana Master) and in fiction (e.g. Varys in Game of Thrones), and was spectacularly embodied by modern-day savant, Kobe Bryant, who took it to a whole new level by inventing his own alter-ego — The Black Mamba.
For Kobe Bryant, The Black Mamba was a persona that captured the essence of his nature as the fearless, relentless, and ferocious competitor. It was also a channel through which all of that energy can be released with direct purpose. There’s a reason why having a legendary work ethic, an unrivaled competitive drive, and a supreme ability to perform under pressure are all synonymous with possessing the “Mamba” Mentality.
Whenever Kobe was training or competing, he was The Black Mamba. However, whenever he was home, he was known as a loving husband and father of four daughters.
On the court, he was feared by most as a stone-cold assassin determined to silence his opponents and critics. However, off the court, he was respected by all as an intelligent and eloquent mentor dedicated to inspiring the younger generations.
The journeys we choose to pursue and the situations we face will often require us to put on certain “hats” that are more appropriate than others. Learn to create different personas and assign them to yourself as characters when called upon. Understanding this will help you get your mind in the right zone to become that person who can do what’s needed to achieve the things you want.
Harness your inner “actor”, be the character you choose to play, and play it well, like Kobe Bryant once did.
Only Compete and Compare With Yourself
Constantly comparing with others means that you’ll only ever be as good or marginally better than your best opponent. Past a certain level of achievement and competition, it ain’t about “the other guys” anymore.
You want to know why it’s truly “lonely at the top”? Because the greatest competitors believed they have always had only one worthy opponent — themselves. Their only focus is becoming the best that they can be, and climb their own mountaintops that nobody else is qualified to climb in their minds.
It takes a certain degree of self-awareness and being “real as fuck” to not only recognize, but embrace ourselves as the flawed, imperfect pieces of work in progress that we all are. And as soon as we stop comparing ourselves to others, that’s when we stop conforming to someone else’s standards. Only then, we can finally get to work and fix the chinks in our armor or double down on our weapons according to what matters to us individually.
Picture the End
The odds of winning the Mega Millions lottery jackpot are one in 302.6 million.
The odds of winning the Powerball lottery jackpot are one in 292.2 million.
The odds of winning both jackpots for over a billion dollars combined comes out to one in 88 quadrillion.
But to hell with all of that, because you’ve already hit the jackpot of all jackpots, something with the odds of one in 400 quadrillion — being a living human being.
What have you done to express your gratitude for that? Have you been making the best of this slim-to-none opportunity? What if it all came to a halt today?
Learn from the way that Kobe Bryant used the inevitable end of his basketball career to fuel his fire every day while he was still an actively player. He lived by this motto:
“Rest at the end, not in the middle.”
Ain’t this how we all ought to live?
The reason why Kobe had an unmatched work ethic was because he knew that when he had to eventually retire from the sport, he didn’t want to feel like he could’ve done more. And that’s exactly how it went — he left it all on the court, happily retired from the NBA knowing he became the best player he could’ve become, stopped giving a single damn about basketball, and went on to win an Oscar instead.
Personally, I find it highly effective to take a mental walk through time and picture the scenery at the end of the road.
For example, at the end of my life, what do I want my obituary to say about me? How about my Wikipedia page? If my life was ever to be filmed as a “road to success” type of documentary, how would I want it to play out?
Believe me, picturing my LAST DAY certainly has an affect on how I live THIS DAY. In the end, that’s life in a nutshell — we get to do stuff, and then we die.
So, from this day until my last day, I shall make it one hell of a fucking ride.
Who’s with me?
As always, I appreciate your time and interest. If I’ve provided anything of value, please follow me to stay tuned for more to come on all things related to, but certainly not limited to: productivity optimization; procrastination management; self-growth; business; tech; and music.
Below are some of my other pieces that you might be interested in:
How to Stop Procrastination With Minimal Willpower
A comprehensive guide brought to you by an ex-procrastinator.
How to Build a Positive Habit in 4 Steps
What I learned from starting and maintaining 14 habits over the past year.