It's Better To Be Ordinary

If you’re a creative person, you might hope that you’re extraordinary.  You might even believe it already.  But it’s actually not a good idea to think of yourself that way.

An extraordinary person doesn’t have to do anything to be amazing.  Because they are extraordinary, anything they do would be extraordinary by definition.  So an extraordinary person doesn’t have to work or try.

If you think of yourself as extraordinary you’re probably not doing what you need in order to achieve your goals.  You may not be critically examining your work.  When you fail and end up looking ordinary, it’s so devastating because there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for it.

When I’m performing with people, I find that if I try to be extraordinary, every one of my failures is devastating.  On the other hand, when I think of myself as ordinary, every one of my failures is normal and I can recover.  And the other musicians, and the audience, connect better with me when I think of myself as ordinary, too!

That shouldn’t surprise us.  We think of celebrities as extraordinary people.  But the fact is that the ones we really love appear rather ordinary.

The people who pretend to be amazing, the ones with an attitude, don’t particularly impress us.  The ones we tend to worship come across as fairly ordinary.  Think about it.

We feel like we know Oprah, like we could be friends with Bruce Springsteen, like Barak Obama would be happy to listen to us if we met him on the street.  We’re drawn to these people because they seem so ordinary, yet they do amazing things.  They look ordinary on purpose, because they know that coming across as extraordinary separates them from their audience, while appearing ordinary bonds them to their fans.

Even people like British royalty are brought down to ordinary status by tabloids.  Their everyday, ordinary squabbles are laid bare.  And people eat it up.

If you’d argue that ultimately, we’re all extraordinary, I could see your point.  Each of us is unique and marvelous.  Even the most boring person you can think of has worlds inside of them.

Therefore, being extraordinary is actually pretty ordinary anyway.

Are you extraordinary?  Is there a difference between doing something extraordinary and being extraordinary?  What do you think?

***News from a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books

This week I put out a new album, and I was featured in a podcast interview!

You may remember Bitter Green as the album I created in 3 weeks for the 2019 RPM Challenge.  I’ve finally put it out on Apple Music and other streaming sources.  Links:  Apple Music:
CD Baby:

The interview is all about publishing your own work.  Elizabeth Dunne of “Freelancer and Other Words That Start with F” talks with me for an hour about the pros and cons of being a pro (or a con!)  We had a lot of fun, and you’ll find it fun to listen to.  Link:

As always, I’d love your comments on the blog, the album or the interview!  And please, share out to your friends!

Adam Cole is a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books. Fantasy author, music educator and performer, Adam chats weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and living your best life. To get a free book on marketing tips for passing out fliers, getting on your own radio show, and writing a blog people will read, please go to and subscribe.

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