Being extraordinary

Physicist Richard Feynman won a Nobel Prize in physics. Those who followed his work or worked beside him were not a bit surprised. “He had the gifts.” “He is brilliant.” After he had won the prize for his work, he visited his old high school. While there, he decided to look up his records. He was surprised to find that his grades were not as good as he had remembered them. Moreover, he got a kick out of the fact that his IQ was 124, not much above average. Dr. Feynman saw that winning the Nobel Prize was one thing, but to win it with an IQ of only 124 was really something.

Most of us would agree because we all assume that the winners of Nobel prizes have exceptionally high IQs. Feynman confided that he always assumed that he had an exceptionally high IQ. Now, here is an interesting question. If Feynman had known he was really just a bit above average in the IQ department, we wonder if he would have had the audacity to launch the unique and creative research experiments that would eventually win him the greatest recognition the scientific community can give.

Perhaps not. Maybe the knowledge that he was a cut above average, but not in the genius category, would have influenced what he tried to achieve. After all, from childhood most of us have been led to believe that ordinary people don’t ordinarily accomplish extraordinary feats.  It’s the gifted who become professional athletes, beauty queens and movie stars, or even holding high political offices. We mere mortals, will have to settle with using the gifts (though simple), we do have to be successful.


I have a different perspective. Most of us fall short of our potential because of little things we know or assume about ourselves. Moreover, the most self-defeating assumption of all is that we are just like everyone else. If I just keep that thought process, then I will live it out in what I try to achieve. It’s a natural inclination. 


That is not how our Creator operates. Each one of us is unique and have gifts that need to be expanded upon, but we tend to hold them close to us believing they are just ordinary. God doesn’t make the ordinary. We are extraordinary by our potential. Our task is to let the extraordinary loose. 


I suggest you and I not try to be someone else or compare ourselves to others who seem to be more successful or “extraordinary.” We take the confidence, faith, courage and tenacity to discover the unique gifts we have and allow them to do extraordinary things. 


Who knows, we might just get a Nobel Prize in physics just because we don’t believe in our limitations. Our Creator believes we can do it.

By Retired Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Bailey

Former Deputy Chief of