Finding Brilliance in Your Ordinary Life

I’ve been working on my branding and the messaging for my new website. In running through various exercises to arrive at what I do best, I realized there is a consistent theme in my life’s work. Everything I’ve done—from my books and other writings, to my speaking and presentations, to my community work and activism—has all had to do with celebrating the contributions of “ordinary” folks. Celebrating the brilliance inside us all. 

The people who inspired my books were often surprised when I asked to tell their stories. “Oh, you don’t want to write about me,” they’d say. “I just had an ordinary life.” To me, though, sketching wounded soldiers in their hospital beds or working in a war factory at age fourteen seemed far from ordinary. 

The people who have come to me for help writing and publishing their books have not been celebrities or CEOs. They’ve been retired teachers and engineers and young mothers with three children and teenage kids with big dreams. They’ve been ordinary people with something to say. Something they hope others will want to hear. And I’ve honored those hopes. 

I’ve been touched by the ordinary on a daily basis. I’ve learned the most in my life not from the sages and gurus, but from the passers-by who have shared with me their stories, from the schoolkids who have given me hugs, from the strangers who’ve written to tell me what my work has meant to them. 

So I decided to use the word “ordinary” in my branding and met immediate resistance from my writer friends. “No one wants to think of themselves as ordinary,” they told me. Really? Then why is it when celebrities are interviewed, they often say, “I just think of myself as an ordinary person”? In all the rush and chaos of their lives, they cling to the need to be just like everyone else. And why is it that people tell me all the time, “I don’t want to be rich or famous. I’m happy being my ordinary self.” 

The fact is, whether we are kings or commanders, saints or superstars, we are all, at our core, just ordinary people. We are all one. And we are all brilliant. Every one of us affects the lives of others, encourages greatness, shares our gifts. Every one of us raises the energy in this world when we laugh, love, pray, or create. Every one of us is here for a purpose, and no one is more important than anyone else. 

So today, be thankful for your ordinary life, as I am, and the bursts of brilliance that light it up.

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