THE INC. LIFE

20 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Said 1 Thing Separates Living an Exceptional Life From an Average One

It came easily to Steve Jobs — and it’s something we all should embrace.

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BY Jeff Haden - 04 Dec 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Steve Jobs set extremely high expectations. He wanted things done a certain way, challenging other people to work harder, work longer, and sometimes to do more than they thought was possible.

Steve Jobs had high standards. He wanted things to be done his way.

But he also believed in the power of taking an unconventional path -- of doing things that other people usually don't consider.

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is. Your life is to live your life inside the world, to try not to bash into the walls too much: Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money... but that's a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call "life" was made up by people that were no smarter than you -- and you can change it. You can influence it... the minute you understand that you can change it, that you can mold it, that's maybe the most important thing. To shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you're just going to live in it -- versus embrace it, change it, improve it... and make your mark upon it.

If you embrace that fact, what happens?

You realize you can choose yourself. Once you had to wait: to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected... to somehow be "discovered."

Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can publish your own work, distribute your own music, create your own products, attract your own funding.

You can do almost anything you want -- and you don't need to wait for someone else to discover your talents.

The only thing holding you back is you... and your willingness to try.

You understand that success is inevitable only in hindsight. Read stories of successful people and it's easy to think they have some intangible "something" -- ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, etc. -- that you don't have.

It's easy to look back on a path to greatness and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion. It wasn't.

Success is never assured. Only in hindsight does it appear that way.

If you're willing to work hard and persevere, who you are is more than enough. Never measure yourself against other people.

Pick a goal and measure yourself against that goal. That's the only comparison that matters.

You realize that success will come from doing things -- or even just one thing -- that no one else is willing to do. Even if they're simple. Even if they're small.

After all, if you do what everyone else does... you'll only achieve the results other people achieve.

Every day, do a few things differently from the people around you.

After a week, you'll be uncommon. After a month, you'll be special.

After a year, you will be exceptional.

And you'll have done so on your terms.