8 Things Extraordinary People Give to Others

8 Things Extraordinary People Give to Others

There is no exercise better for your heart than
reaching down and lifting others up.

Today, as I was sitting on the edge of a cliff at a local park, staring off into the distance and thinking about my day, I turned around to see a young lady who was almost in tears slowly walking down to where I was sitting.  I got up, walked up to her and asked, “What’s wrong?”  She told me she was deathly afraid of heights, but was worried about me and wanted to get over her fear because I looked lonely sitting by myself, and she wanted to make sure I was OK and in a healthy state of mind.

Her name is Kate, and her braveness and kindness blew my mind.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about what an extraordinary person Kate is and about what it means to be extraordinary.  Above all, I think, extraordinary people give generously in numerous ways.  Specifically, they give others…

1.  Reliable, sincere support.

The closest thing to being cared for is to care for others.  We are all in this together and we should treat each other as such.  The very demons that torment each of us, torment others all over the world.  It is our challenges and troubles that connect us at the deepest level.

If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life – the ones who truly made a difference – you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems.  They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway.  Be this person for those around you every chance you get.

2.  Undivided attention and focus.

There is greatness and beauty in making time, especially when it’s inconvenient, for the sake of someone nearby.

You don’t have to tell people that you care, just show them.  In your relationships and interactions with others, nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention.  Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results is the ultimate compliment.  It is indeed the most valued gesture you can make to another human being.

When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other.  With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow wiser and stronger.  We help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s growth.  So give someone the gift of YOU – your time, undivided attention and kindness.  That’s better than any other gift, it won’t break or get lost, and will always be remembered.  (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  The freedom to be themselves.

Life’s greatest privilege is to become who you truly are.  You have to dare to be yourself, one hundred percent, however anxious or odd that self may prove to be.  The people who support you in doing so are extraordinary.  Appreciate these people and their kindness, and pay it forward when you’re able.

Never bully someone into silence.  Never victimize others for being different.  Accept no one’s close-minded definition of another person.  Let people define themselves.  You have the ability to show people how awesome they are, just the way they are.  So act on this ability without hesitation; and don’t forget to show yourself the same courtesy.

4.  Their willingness to be open-minded and wrong.

The mind is like a parachute; it doesn’t work when it’s closed.

It’s okay to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by others.  But that doesn’t give you the right to immediately reject any sense they might make.  Nor does it give you a right to accuse someone of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you don’t like what they are thinking and saying.  Learn to recognize the beauty of different ideas and perspectives, even if it means overcoming your pride and opening your mind beyond what is comfortable.

Healthy relationships and human interactions are not a power struggle.  Be willing to be wrong, while simultaneously exploring your truth.  (Read The Four Agreements.)

5.  A voice of inspiration and positivity.

If you attach to the negative behavior of others, it brings you and everyone close to you down to their level.  Stay positive when negativity surrounds you.  Smile when others frown.  It’s an easy way to make a difference.  Every time words are spoken, something is created.  Be conscious of what you say and how you say it.  Use words that build up, appreciate, encourage and inspire.

It’s your job to inspire and motivate others, to feed another’s senses with the ideas and endeavors that move you.  Inspiration and positivity begets inspiration and positivity times infinity.  Imagine if the people who were inspired to create the light bulb, the telephone, and the personal computer didn’t share it with the world.

6.  Recognition and praise.

A brave, extraordinary soul recognizes the strength of others.  Give genuine praise whenever possible.  Doing so is a mighty act of service.  Start noticing what you like about others and speak up.  Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are is extremely rewarding.  It’s an investment in them that doesn’t cost you a thing, and the returns can be astounding.  Not only will they feel empowered, but also what goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you too.

Also, be sure to follow this rule: “Praise in public, penalize in private.”  Never publicly ridicule someone when you have the option not to.  If you don’t understand someone, ask questions.  If you don’t agree with them, tell them.  But don’t judge them behind their back to everyone else.

7.  The compassion and space to save face.

What others say and do is often based entirely on their own self-reflection.  When someone who is angry and upset speaks to you, and you nevertheless remain very present and continue to treat them with kindness and respect, you place yourself in a position of great power.  You become a means for the situation to be graciously diffused and healed.

A Zen teacher once told me, “When somebody backs themselves into a corner, look the other way until they get themselves out; and then act as though it never happened.”  Allowing people to save face in this way, and not reminding them of what they already know is not their most intelligent behavior, is an act of great kindness.  This is possible when we realize that people behave in such ways because they are in a place of great suffering.  People react to their own thoughts and feelings and their behavior often has nothing directly to do with you.  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

8.  Gentleness and consideration.

Be gentle and compassionate with those around you.  Mother Nature opens millions of flowers every day without forcing the buds.  Let this be a reminder not to be forceful with those around you, but to simply give them enough light and love, and an opportunity to grow naturally.

Ultimately, how far you go in life depends on your willingness to be helpful to the young, respectful to the aged, tender with the hurt, supportive of the striving, and tolerant of those who are weaker or stronger than the majority.  Because we wear many hats throughout the course of our lives, and at some point in your life you will have been all of these people.


The difference between ordinary people and extraordinary people is the word “extra.”  As Anne Frank once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”  Whenever you can, go out of your way and do something nice and unexpected for those around you, especially those who may never be able to repay you.  Be the “extra” in extraordinary.

Your turn…

In your mind, what makes a person extraordinary?  What else do extraordinary people give to others?  Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.

Photo by: Jesslee Cuizon


  1. Jo-Anne says

    In a nutshell, extraordinary people care about others and act accordingly.

    Thank you for another excellent, uplifting read. It actually reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
    ―William Shakespeare

  2. Dev says

    Since I just read it, I will quote page 101 in the Relationships chapter of your book: “Instead of trying to change others, give them your support and lead by example.”

    I think this is what makes a person extraordinary – those who lead by example and help us be our best selves.

    Thanks for another inspiring, thoughtful post.

  3. J.J. says

    “Whenever you can, go out of your way and do something nice and unexpected for those around you, especially those who may never be able to repay you. Be the “extra” in extraordinary.”

    Wow! That pretty much sums it up for me. I have a few of these people in my life, and I do try to return the favor when I can :)

  4. says

    Being gentle Angel is the greatest gift.

    Show the soft touch. People will love you for it.

    Act with compassion too. Understand that many are afraid or even hopeless. Love them. Care for them.

    Be there for them in a high energy way.

    Awesome post Angel (and Marc) :)


  5. says

    You’ve listed everything I aspire to be and more. I think the courage to disagree when it really matters is also important. Although the situations where it’s needed may not ever present themselves to you. Instead, one of your friends might find themselves at a crossroads in life, determined to head down a shady path because of the allure.. at that time, if you do not have the courage to speak up.. you may regret it forever.

  6. says

    I find extraordinary people have the power to change the atmosphere of an entire room. Some people can turn the bad mood of 10 people into smiles just by the energy they bring with them when they walk through the door. These folks are amazing to be around :)

  7. says

    Some months ago it became clear to me that when all is said and done, it comes down to how much benefit and love you bring into the lives of others.

    With that realization I started cultivating in me the ability to love all unconditionally.

    And I have been amazed by how things have turned out, and how much it has changed me.

    #5 really resonates with me. Most people seem to be waiting for permission to step into their greatness. And you can only give it through motivation ad inspiration.

    I need to work on #7.

    Thank you for the thought invoking post, Marc and Angel. :-)

    – Jazilah

  8. says

    I virtually always like your stuff, but what if you can’t seem to connect with people? I would love to do more for others, but don’t know where to begin.

  9. says

    What makes a person extraordinary is:

    1. They do what they want no matter what.
    2. They don’t buy into fear.
    3. They beat to their own drum and make no apologies for it.
    4. They make a difference in their own way and on their own terms.
    5. They make up their own mind, weighing the facts. They’re not easily swayed by the masses.
    6. They smile, even when they don’t feel like it.
    7. They say “Thank You,” even when they’re in the midst of their own storm.

    What else do extraordinary people give to others? Unconditional love, patience and forgiveness.

  10. says

    Great post Angel.

    I have been thinking a lot recently about how we can show up in an extraordinary way for others by being vulnerable.

    Revealing our vulnerability to others is confronting and sometimes risky but it is also the thing that others connect with the most and which has the power to touch them the most.’

    I am thinking about ways I can be more open to others in my day to day life.

  11. says

    I don’t think life is about returning favors, but rather about passing them on. When you give expecting to receive it’s not really giving, because the focus is on the result instead of the act. Therefore, I think ‘extraordinary’ people are just very present in the here and now instead of getting caught up in their minds. Kindness and compassion is a language we all understand, but often only speak on occasion. Practicing meditation, gratitude and personal responsibility are all things that help in becoming the extraordinary you.

  12. John N. C. says

    I have been following your blog for quite a while now… reading trough archived posts as well as the latest ones, and aside from saying the things you say are just AMAZING and deeply true, i must confess that this post was truly inspiring. I’ve always tried to do all these things, but never as much as i should have – although after reading it from you, i’m pretty sure i’ll start to grow in this direction.

    Once more – many thanks for the uplifting read!

  13. Madam Lotus says

    They unconditionally share their knowledge and information that could be useful to the particular one (while interacting).
    I know this, because I’ve met people who do not want you to know what they know.
    Extraordinary people aren’t afraid of the success of others :)

    Thank you for your wonderful text. <3

  14. liberty4ev says

    This is sort of an extension of #4 but I think an extraordinary person has the ability to self-reflect, to HONESTLY assess himself, and to seek to correct his own faults, especially before trying to correct others. A extraordinary person also accepts criticism gracefully (to heed the advice or not is another matter). This is an issue I have worked on for many years. I’m far from perfect, but the improvements I’ve made in myself have made significant improvements in my relationships with others.

    I’m fond of quotes as reminders. I keep these two in mind:

    1. “Would that some power the gift give us
    To see ourselves as others see us…” from “To a Louse” ~Robert Burns

    2. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” -Matthew 7:3 NIV

  15. says

    #3 & 6 are the ones I’ll be working on today. I tend to get self-absorbed and oblivious to everything, and forget to appreciate the people around me or acknowledge their own unique impact on my world and the world around them. People need to be acknowledged and appreciated. It makes such a difference.

    And non-judgmental people are such a rare blessing that are so underappreciated. I’m determined to surround myself with as many people like this as possible.

    Great post! Thank you.


  16. says

    Allowing someone the freedom to be themselves is such a good thing to give. Not everyone feels the same way, thinks the same way, likes the same things or cares about the same things but that should never change how you treat them. Be ok enough with your beliefs to understand everyone has their own, and thats ok.

  17. David Rapp says

    Such a great list! I’ll keep this one posted in my office for a long time.

    I think there are a couple of other ways to be extra ordinary in giving:

    They give protection and defend those who cannot protect or defend themselves (bullying, manipulators, martyrs, etc.).

    They give up the need to win or always be right.

  18. says

    What a moving and touching story, and a remarkable young lady you met.

    Even though social media is bringing our lives closer together in one sense, it is also becoming harder and harder to find people who will really reach out in the real world to a stranger to see if they are all right.

    It is an excellent example of the value of attachment free giving.

    As for the reasons that make a person extraordinary, I would take one right from your example:

    The willingness to overcome your personal fears to “do the right thing”

    That is becoming a rare commodity in modern times.


  19. LindaD says

    I whole-heartedly practiced #1 and #2 with a young friend of mine – only to be cast off like an unwanted piece of trash. What do you do when when you open your heart to someone and give them completely unconditional support and encouragement and they reject it? My heart is just broken.

  20. Betsy says

    Very insightful post. I was the person sitting in the car in tears, and an older lady helped me with my situation. She just knocked on the window and talked to me. Calmed me down, and made me feel better. I could not thank her enough.

    Yes, agree with you SJ Scott, people need to realize that there is more to life than a machine. Real people – person to person.

    Also, wonderful story about Kate. Thank you.

  21. says

    This one is probably bundled up in most of the others, but I think it deserves its own category…

    Extraordinary people LISTEN. Actively, patiently, without agenda…other than the well being of the person they listen to.

    It’s a skill, but it’s also an art. Listening is a state of being.

  22. Pilar says

    You both inspire me daily. Clearly I haven’t met either of you but if you only knew how you have helped from the inside out.

    I will forever be grateful. <3

  23. says

    A lovely, inspirational post… the one attribute that pops into my mind is being non-judgmental. We all make mistakes, big and small, but extraordinary people know they’re not qualified to judge or cast the first stone and practice acceptance instead.

  24. Angie says

    This post was just incredible and I’m really glad I found it- exactly what I need right now. Thank you so much for sharing this :)

  25. says

    Thanks for the article. You know, I really need to think about each one. I used to agree with all of them, and yet nowadays find myself questioning everything. All of our social rituals. Am I being more loving by engaging in a social ritual or being pretty blunt with someone about hearing a limiting belief that is probably holding them back in a dozen different ways? Which is really more helpful? Right now I’m in a place of “not knowing” about all of this. Thanks again.

  26. says

    @Guus: Start with just being present. Provide your undivided attention and like Larry Hochman mentioned, listen to understand not just to hear and respond. And when another moment reminds you of that person or of their situation, let them know. Exceed expectations by caring more than one would expect.

    @Susan Jones: You’re absolutely right. Reminds me of my current love, “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown.

    @All: So many of you just described yourself… uplifting, providing unconditional love, gentle, encouraging and always listening. Thank you for being extraordinary people in our lives! Marc and I appreciate you. =)

  27. says

    This is an excellent list (as most of yours are). Thank you for posting. I try to live by these simple principles each day. It is so nice to have them broken down and put into perspective.

  28. Gilly says

    I have always tried to live my life doing all I can for other people, whether I know the person, or they are a stranger in need. But I will have to say it has gotten me into really sad situations, and I ended up really hurt and deflated lots of times. Family can just learn to expect your kindness and generosity without valuing your actions in any way, and others can see you as weak and vulnerable….and so take advantage of you. I never stop being “extraordinary” in every way, but as I grow older the hurts never get easier to bear! Thank goodness I have learnt to bounce back quite quickly nowadays… :)


  1. Wow… I love your point about truly understanding others and being selfless instead of adding personal judgements and solutions of our own. Thanks for the encouragement.

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