“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
Last week I read an article in the Daily Mail about an up-and-coming 26-year-old British artist named Kimberley Burrows, who is known for her illustrations. Two of her works are shown here.
In 2014, Ms. Burrows was awarded Young Illustrator of the Year by Insight Magazine. Receipt of this award was particularly incredible because Ms. Burrows is blind. Specifically, Ms. Burrows is completely blind in one eye, has only 10% central vision in the other and has no peripheral vision. Generally, everything she sees is very dark to her, and she struggles to make sense of what is directly in front of her. She cannot determine depth or distance of objects as they appear two-dimensional and blurry, and colors look faded as if washed out. As a result of her limited vision in one eye, she can only work on a piece for approximately 20 minutes at a time. Therefore, it sometimes takes her up to one month to finish a single illustration.
Despite these challenges, Ms. Burrows has refused to allow her vision problems to prevent her from establishing herself in the art world. According to Ms. Burrows, although she may struggle to do a still life, she draws from what she sees in her mind. Her ultimate goal is to become an illustrator of children’s books. While noting that such a goal is not an “obvious” choice for someone who is blind, Ms. Burrows states that she has the “will power to tackle any obstacles.” Her efforts have paid off as she was commissioned to draw a piece for Paddington Bear creator, Michael Bond. Amazingly, despite her disability, Ms. Burrows was not content with being ordinary but chose instead to be extraordinary, despite the challenges and the difficulties involved.
So, what does it mean to be extraordinary? Merriam-Webster defines “extraordinary” as “going beyond what is usual, regular or customary” and “exceptional to a very marked extent.” As women, we owe it to ourselves to be more than ordinary. Instead, we should strive daily to be extraordinary. We should not underestimate what we are capable of doing as each of us is capable of doing so much more than we think. We need to challenge ourselves and raise the bar to see what we can do, and what it is we can achieve. We need to elevate our life, as well as the lives of those around us. Each day we need to get up and decide what it is that we are going to be extraordinary at whether it is it launching a new product, managing your team, conducting a research project, negotiating a deal, teaching your kids or your class, caring for a sick parent, etc. Whatever the task, here some suggestions on how to be extraordinary each and every day:
- Have a positive attitude to be the best that you can be! Being extraordinary is a collection of powerful, positive thoughts. Be excited for each day and passionate about everything you do. Remind yourself over and over again that you are a capable individual who can achieve great things. Use your inner strength to rise above what is happening every day, and focus on your best qualities and goals. Have an open mind such that when opportunities present themselves you take them.
- Take action – get things done even if just small steps are taken to move forward.
- Develop expertise and excellence in whatever it is you choose to pursue.
- Maintain a good character. Act with honesty and integrity at all times. Be generous and giving with others.
- Be both a great communicator but also a great listener. While strong communication skills are important, focus on becoming an excellent listener. People who listen are successful because they are able to hear and understand the needs of others and focus their energy on meeting those needs. When you listen, you will become a great communicator.
- Be confident. Confidence will help you achieve your goals and overcome your fears of future failure by reminding you of your past successes.
- Be brave and do not be afraid to take risks, but learn from your mistakes and experiences. Continue each day to be the best you can be while making simple, continuous and incremental improvements in yourself.
- Be focused and manage your time. Know how to concentrate and focus on activities that will give you the highest return for the goals you want to achieve. Value your time but remember to always be on time.
- Never stop learning. Always remain hungry and eager to learn no matter what the time of day. Be curious and embrace the possibilities. Believe that there is always something that can be learned from someone else.
- Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to change. Many successful people are successful doing something different from what they initially intended/started to do in their career.
- Be prepared. Don’t have just a plan; have back-up plans A, B and C.
“I was not born to live up to society’s expectations of who I should be but rather I define my own individuality and my uniqueness for I chose to follow the path of being extraordinary instead of just being ordinary.” ― Elizabeth E. Castillo
To learn more about Ms. Burrows, you can visit her blog at: http://gleamed.blogspot.co.uk/
This post was written by Lisa Mueller.