What makes an extraordinary life?


How does social entrepreneurship intersect with an extraordinary life?

Answered By: Linda Kern
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2016     Views: 36

I've got some ideas for you!

The kind of information you need is often found in books. I searched eBooks on EBSCOhost, which is accessible through the Business libguide at

I searched qualities of an extraordinary life, not using quotation marks, which broadens the results. The most relevant results are all about leadership. For example:

Cohen, W. A. (2006). Secrets of special ops leadership : Dare the impossible, achieve the extraordinary. Retrieved from

The author was an MBA before he served in special ops. He contends that being extraordinary is about doing what others are unable to do. From the text:

For example, in late December 2004, Donald Trump signaled the second season end of his successful television series The Apprentice by announcing "You're hired!" to the winner of the competition. After starting with more than a million applicants and ending with eighteen candidate finalists who, over the season, had competed by leading fellow contestants in various business projects, one individual had emerged the winner. This was Kelly Perdew, a West Pointer and former Army officer who had completed Ranger training. Perdew's winning performance was leading his team in a charity fundraising celebrity polo match, during which he had to overcome problems ranging from uncooperative weather to an uncooperative team made up of former contestants who had already been eliminated. Trump declared Perdew the winner of the reality show over the other finalist, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton who also had a degree from Harvard Law School. According to The New York Sun: Mr. Trump wasn't just being patriotic—it seemed like Mr. Perdew's military training was actually good preparation for the teamwork, competition, and improvisation needed to complete the tasks that were part of the reality show. Better preparation, even, than the training some of the other contestants had received at Ivy League universities.3

One Ranger made this statement regarding the use of these concepts in achieving impossible results in the civilian sector: ". . . [T]hey can succeed because of their will to succeed and the confidence that they can accomplish a mission, in an ethical way, no matter what it takes, whether it takes long hours, innovative thinking, or motivating people to do   extraordinary things. That attitude translates to success regardless of what business you are in. . . ."4

The book goes on to talk about organizational leadership.

There are other relevant results including Zenger, J. H., & Folkman, J. (2009). Extraordinary leader : Turning good managers into great leaders. Retrieved from

Based on these results, I changed my search to qualities of an extraordinary leader, again without quotation marks. This returned Murphy J. (2010). Inner excellence : Achieve extraordinary business success through mental toughness. Retrieved from

The author uses a psychological approach to the topic, for example talking about the

"...thought patterns of remarkable people who live passionately and achieve extraordinarily." Then he provides a theoretical framework! "This is the path that interested psychiatrist Abraham Maslow.He analyzed the characteristics of extraordinary people—how they thought, what they dreamed of, the way they lived. In doing so, he found that they shared a number of common traits, including..." (p. 3).

Maslow is known for his needs hierarchy and his approach to motivation and self actualization. There are a number of books on Maslow in the same database which can provide additional information on his theories.

The table of contents of Inner Excellence is quite interesting!

1 Maslow and the Maserati: The Pursuit of More
2 The Monster of Self: The Biggest Obstacle We All Face
3 The Quest for Fearlessness: Three Pillars of Extraordinary Success
4 Code of the Samurai: The Triumph of Mastery over Ego
5 Change Your State, Change Your Life: How to Get the Feelings You Want
6 The World Is Flat: Reconstruct Your Model of the World
7 A Clear and Present Beauty: The Four Most Powerful Ways to Be Fully Present
8 Poise Under Pressure: Four Keys to Extraordinary Performance
9 Zoë and the Mind-Set for Growth: The Underlying Process of High Performance
10 Maslow, Michael Jordan, and the Navy Seals: Three Hallmarks of Extraordinary Leaders
Conclusion: A New Way of Life

Of course, the traits listed in these books on organizational leadership would lead to an extraordinary life outside of the business world also. Social entrepreneurship would just provide the proving ground.

Hope this helps!

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