A coach and leader’s job is ultimately to live an exceptional life.

You’ve been around coaches that aren’t living lives that feel particularly exceptional. They offer you a conversation or sit in one with you, and their energy feels more like someone cheerleading over top of sadness, or painting a picture of composure over top of confusion and frustration.

It’s not wrong to have these things show up — it’s entirely human.

The job of a coach and leader is to get the support needed to live life exceptionally, which is not an easy thing. It sounds sexy to say “Look at me living an exceptional life”, but when we hear that, we imagine it means making a lot of money, buying boats, taking lots of time off, travelling around the world, taking really great selfies, etc.

But all of those things, while indeed awesome, are also just the trappings of success. They’re the sitcom/Facebook version of living an exceptional life, and often have very little to do with actually living exceptionally.

Consider two emotions that our society here in the West tends to try to repress or avoid: anger and sadness.

What do you think it means to be exceptional in the way you experience and be with your sadness? How about anger? What would it look like for someone to be exceptional in the way they handle their anger?

For most people, the knee-jerk reaction is to assume that living an exceptional life means that you don’t really experience too much sadness or anger. You just elevate and be conscious and enlightened above it all, being able to find the brighter side, rise above negativity to hang out in positivity, and then help other people do the same.

But that’s just bypassing life. Look around you. Everywhere, unavoidably, there is death and suffering. When a loved one passes away, it will create sadness, and that sadness is as much your birthright as the laughter and connection you cherish.

General isn’t bad — there’s a reason that’s the default path for us. It tends to be easier and less riddled with fear. Frankly, practising exceptional responsibility for your life can often feel like a burden. No one can really be blamed for choosing to spend time in their victim-hood (after all, by definition, it’s not their fault).

My point is simply that the general approach is not the exceptional approach.

In general, we expect that our education (at least the really intense, expensive part) is finished when we graduate from school.

Be exceptional: invest increasingly in yourself and your development as you grow and move forward.

In general, investing in ourselves is either a luxury we get when we have enough money, or a remedy we apply when things get bad enough.

Be exceptional: Make investing in your development and getting supported a non-negotiable, just like your rent and your food.

In general, it’s not our fault when someone else is upset because of something we did, shared, posted, spoke of, etc.

Be exceptional: Relate to someone’s upset as an act of generosity — them sharing with us some part of our impact and giving us the opportunity to look inward. Clean up the mess, even if you had zero intention of creating it, and treat it as an opportunity to help heal the world’s wound.

In general, we hold emotions like anger, sadness, frustration as inefficient and non-productive, and so we find ways to avoid feeling that way. More specifically, we tend to be in the denial of owning when we’re angry or sad.

Be exceptional: Acknowledge when you feel the way you do, and practise experiencing your feelings in a responsible manner (“I notice I’m getting really angry. Can you give me five minutes so I can get that handled?”)

In general, we believe we can do it on our own, reading books, watching how-to videos, listening to podcasts and staying safe the risk of intimacy.

Be exceptional: Make a mess. Practise where people can see you. Let us see the shape of your heart in both your successes and your failures.

In general, we wait until we are sure we can make the leap without taking any risk. If we wait until it’s a little safer, handled, put together, less chaotic, we’ll have more time, then we can do what’s scary.

Be exceptional: Leap before you’re ready. Lean out over the edge and into your life — not tomorrow, not in two weeks, not when you’re ready. Do it TODAY. Do it NOW.