I see this all the time at my day job. New reps come in and flounder about when they first start out in an industry that no one ever plans to be part of, insurance. Yet, they start putting in the work and putting up with all the drama of it.
As time goes on, those who cannot take the stresses of the job either quit or decide to be average at best. They get by working their 9–5 job and are completely fine with never achieving anything.
However, there are others who work hard. They push themselves and those around them. As they start working their way through the ranks, they leave a wake of influence behind them and a reputation of being one of the best.
What Is Remarkable?
Remarkable is an adjective. It's how we describe people who are worth noticing because they are uncommon or even, extraordinary. The character of Sherlock Holmes is remarkable. Bill Gates and his reading habits are remarkable. Tim Ferriss and his ability to learn things fast are remarkable.
These are just a few names of people, whether real or fictional, that is remarkable. People we find interesting, uncommon, and extraordinary. As Chris Guillebeau says,
“they rise above the culture of mediocrity.”
Remarkable doesn’t mean someone is better than someone else. It does mean that someone has done something which has elevated them to a status of interest. Which is interesting, because any of us can become remarkable.
A good friend of mine helped me get my day job. He had been working at our company for years and referred me to my initial position. In my interview, I mentioned my friend, and the hiring manager sang praises of him.
I thought at the time, it was just because they had worked together on a team. However, as time went on, more and more people had such good things to say about my friend. In fact, he was a person that was well known for being REALLY good at his job.
Without prodding too much, I started asking him about his career path and how he has worked with so many people in the company. As he and I talked over coffee one day, I realized something about him. He was really remarkable in our industry.
“By being remarkable, being genuine, you can be worth connecting with. And you don’t have to have it figured out perfectly the first time — you can adjust.” — Seth Godin
What I learned from him was how you aren’t naturally remarkable at something, you become remarkable. And many of the most remarkable people have the same set of traits.
From talking with my friend and looking at the examples of remarkable people in our society, I have found there are seven timeless traits of remarkable people.
1. Decide to be Remarkable
But not with a huge declaration to the world. When I was struggling at my day job, I had to finally decide if I wanted to a) quit, b) be okay with being average, or c) do something about my struggle and become better.
I chose to be better. In fact, I remember that I decided that I wanted to go from being the worst in productivity in my office to the best.
This is a trait of remarkable people. They decide to do something about where they are so they can get to where they want to be. That decision isn’t fancy most of the time. Many times, it comes out of a moment of desperation or struggle.
But, once the decision is made, they can move forward and start making it happen. To be remarkable, you have to make up your mind to be remarkable. As you do that, you put your nose to the grindstone and start taking action.
How to apply this?
First, decide how you want to be remarkable. Do you want to be a remarkable spouse or parent? Do you want to succeed and be above the crowd at work? What is it that you want to be remarkable at? Then, decide that you will do it every day.
2. Take Responsibility for Themselves
They stop making excuses for their mediocrity or failures and start taking responsibility for themselves. My friend is remarkable because he stands by his work product. Even if it goes against the grain or is done differently than the status quo.
A remarkable person takes credit for their success AND their failures. When things go well, they make sure they get the credit. And when things tank, they don’t shy away from taking responsibility too.
Their level of responsibility tends to be higher than that of the average person. The average person wants the accolades when they come and shy away from the criticism when they screw up.
This is why many people stay mediocre. They don’t speak up at all because they are afraid of failing and so they don’t get credit for the good work they do and don’t take chances to do great work.
How to apply this?
When something goes well, let people know about it. Not in a prideful way, but if someone asks, tell them. If something goes wrong, take responsibility and clean up your mess. This will put you ahead of the pack even when it doesn’t go right.
Remarkable people may not have brand new, never thought of ideas. But they look for ways to make improvements to their lives. My friend at work always looked for ways to help make our job more efficient.
While he followed our processes at work, he also questions them to see if there are flaws that are holding our work quality back. This is something he has passed on to me.
Doing my day job, and even with my writing, I always look for ways to improve. Most of the time, the things I come up with aren’t brand new ideas, but they are restructured in a way to fit my day job or my writing practices.
Innovation isn’t making things out of anything, it is taking what is and making it better. This is the sign of a remarkable person.
How to apply this to your life?
Ask questions like these: Why do we have this rule? Does it help us? Why is this process in place? Is it making us better? What happens if we change things up? These questions are a good starting place for innovation.
4. Know Their Identity
They know who they are and who they are not. The average or mediocre person thinks they know who they are, but really, they are being who they think they should be. They let their identity be determined by outside forces in their lives.
Yet, a remarkable person knows who they are and who they want to be. They decide their identity and live it out. This way, when struggles come or opposition shows up, they won’t be swayed back into the mediocre.
When you know your identity there will be very few things that will control your life. Sure, there will be outside forces you cannot control, but those forces cannot change your values and vision for your life.
Because it is values and vision that mark a remarkable person.
How to apply this?
Who are you really? Who do you want to be? Decide what is most important to you and how you want to live your life and live that way. Have boundaries for people and things that want to steer you away from who you really are.
5. Care About Other People
Remarkable people care about other people. They help them and encourage them. Most of the time, a remarkable person is remarkable because they want to see other people succeed and do well.
My friend at work is like this. There has not once been a time that I have mentioned his name or ran into someone at work who doesn’t have a positive thing to say about my friend. They always talk about a project they were on together or how my friend helped them out.
Even me sharing his story is part of what makes him remarkable. He lifts people up right alongside him. Even if they aren’t trying to improve or break free of the status quo, they always feel lifted up because they know my friend cares about them.
Remarkable people care enough about others to lift them up and encourage them. This is why they are uncommon and we begin to notice them in our lives because they lifted us up too.
How to apply this to our lives?
If you come across someone who is struggling or asks for help, help them out. Give them advice if they ask or point them in the right direction. Genuinely care about who they are and how they are doing.
6. Take Risks
They aren’t afraid to be controversial or make a fool of themselves. They want to push the envelope a little bit and see what comes of it. If there is a better way to do something and you need to try something new out, they will be the ones to do it.
But they don’t take bad risks. They take ones where a failure is an option and it might set them back, but it won’t ruin them. These risks aren’t taken out of desperation, but out of a calculated maneuver in order to make things better.
They see the potential gains and are willing to take the risk for them. The average or mediocre person might see the same thing but aren’t willing to put themselves out there. So, they will stick to the status quo and keeping doing “business as usual.”
For the remarkable person, there isn’t a way of life that can’t be made better, even if it takes a little risk to get there.
How to apply this?
Look for places in your life you can improve. If they are outside your comfort zone, or they might make you seem against the grain, take a stab at it. You won’t regret making life changes that will help you grow as a person and improve your life.
7. Vision For The Future
Every remarkable person has a vision for the future. They know what they want or how they want to impact the world and they go for it. This is what makes them right back to making the decision to be remarkable.
This vision takes them through their failures. It picks them up when things don’t go right and they take responsibility for it. The vision they have for the future helps them know who they are and know how they want to help people.
This is the foundation for what makes them remarkable. Without it, they cannot become remarkable at all. They will simply be like a boat washed away by a storm at sea. This is what happens to the average person.
Yet, the remarkable person knows where they want to go, takes actions every day to do it, and brings other people with them too.
How to apply this to our lives?
What do you want for yourself and the world around you? What might that look like? Begin to form that picture in your head, write it down, keep it close at hand. It will be this vision for the future that will help you become remarkable.
Being remarkable is more than a goal. It’s not about your vanity, it's about living a better life. One that you can be proud of and that you can pass on to those around you. It’s not about being famous or making lots of money, it's about making something and giving it away.
We see a lot of remarkable people because they are rich and famous.
Yet, there are many, many remarkable people all around us. They are in our homes, at our jobs, and in our social circles. They are the ones you love being around and make you feel specials.
And they don’t have to be other people. You can be a remarkable person too. If you adopt the traits above and put them into practice in your life, you can be remarkable too. That’s where it all started for the examples in our life.
What makes you remarkable now? Share in the responses below.