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November, 2008
Are you Extraordinary?
A dear friend of mine died last week.  She was an extraordinary person. 

We are all extraordinary when we are born, but so few of us actually die as extraordinary people. 

That is because we spend our lifetimes whittling away our unique traits that don't "fit in". You can do too many things you think you "should", versus what you want or need to do.  Or, you get stuck doing things that used to work for you, but no longer do.  You may not even truly know who you are intended to be.  As a result, you become ordinary. 

 Ordinary.  Just like everyone else. 

Not Zardoz.  My friend and teacher was everything that she was meant to be, and then some.  She left a high-powered, high-income investment banking job some time ago to pursue her spiritual passions.  This transition included changing her name legally to one that better suited her uniqueness and her vision. 

The word "kook" may have been used once or twice to describe her.

But, she took no offense. 

She taught me that when you are true to your unique nature, you may lose a few "friends". You may not do or say things that are "popular".  In fact when you are really true to yourself, you start to live the life you want and not the life that someone else wants you to live.  When you are true to yourself, you can become the ultimate leader in your own life and become extraordinary through the process. 

I realize that staying true to your course requires courage.  Unfortunately, it can sometimes be easier to bail out on yourself than to feel like you are failing others.  Ordinary people bail out on themselves over and over again. 

This message is so timely when many people are finding themselves a part of this economic downward spiral. More jobs are being lost and many folks are asking serious questions about what's next?  Who am I and what am I going to do?  Deep inside you may be excited for something new, but you are scared to death.

I never met a person that got a pink slip that on some deeper level didn't really want one.  Now that may sound absolutely crazy to those of you that are suffering the pain and agony of it right now.  These changes can be subtle messages that your life needs a readjustment.  It may be a perfect time for that much needed second career or second chance to tap into something that really makes your passion come alive.  A new opportunity to be truer to yourself.

When I exited my corporate job, it was painful.  How could it not be when I invested my time, passion and energy into a chapter of my life that lasted more than 20 years?  These adjustments are not pain-free, but they give us the time to reflect and re-craft our lives to be extraordinary.

There are still people I know that think I am crazy for not taking another high-powered corporate job.  The allure of the money, the "security", the insurance, etc. are the reasons they offer.  Or my own internal voice that occasionally doubts my choices.  I could allow them to "convince me" of what is right for me.  I could also try to please them, or try to "fit in" to what is expected.

Fortunately, I have learned about the implications of bailing out on myself and I don't want to do it anymore.  I am staying on course to do what I feel passionate about.   I believe that being true to yourself will empower you to become extraordinary. 

Leadership has many paradoxes, and this is one. The road to becoming an extraordinary leader in your own life requires dismantling the very fabric you may have spun to represent yourself to others. 
  • It requires your truthfulness to strip away the things in your life that are no longer working for you. 
  • It requires a re-focus of your internal compass to find your "true north" so that in time, you can better serve others. 
  • It requires you to endure the pain of your own self-doubt and to withstand the rejection from others that your new direction will certainly bring.  
Are you extraordinary?  Or at least working towards becoming extraordinary again?  I hope so.  You owe it to yourself and to others. 

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Laura Lopez is a performance strategist, leadership specialist and branding expert with more than 20 years of corporate experience. She is also a late-in-life mom who gleaned her leadership insights from her experiences with her daughter and applied them at work with outstanding results. Laura discusses this in her new book, The Connected and Committed Leader, a practical guide that teaches you how to achieve better results at work by applying lessons from home.
Laura is a sought-after keynote speaker, award-winning author, and business and life coach who has been featured on the Today Show and Fox News. In addition, her accomplishments have been highlighted in several business periodicals including The Long Beach Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her articles on management and leadership are regularly seen in Leadership Excellence. 
Laura can be contacted via her Web site at:  
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All the best,
Laura Lopez
Laura Lopez & Company
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cell (713) 828-8829