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Become Extraordinary

Adapted From It All Adds Up: Designing Your Game Plan for Financial Success by Devon Kennard

It’s never been about what you got. It’s about what you do with what you got.

When I was playing for the New York Giants, our defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, recognized that I was good at playing on the line of scrimmage, so he let me play as our extra pass rusher in third-down situations during my third and fourth years on the team. Over four seasons, I ended up earning nine and a half sacks on limited pass-rushing snaps. It wasn’t bad but I knew I could do better.

In other words, I wanted to be extraordinary.

So I decided to invest in me.

Warren Buffett once said, “Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life. There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it because if you develop more skill, more ability, more insight, more capacity, that’s what’s going to really provide economic freedom.… It’s those skill sets that really make that happen.”

Me, Master Joe Kim, and my brother after a training session Photo credit: Devon Kennard

The investment was worth it. Over the next two seasons, this time with the Lions, I landed fourteen sacks—almost double the total of what I had in the four seasons I was with the Giants.

Signing my contract with the Detroit Lions

Photo credit: Detroit Lions

Years ago someone said to me, “Complacency is the cousin to death,” and I didn’t want to be the one responsible for killing my NFL career. Instead, I worked even harder to become extraordinary before I even knew where I would land.

I made the conscious decision to invest in myself—hiring Joe Kim (a specialist NFL coach)—to improve my skills, and it paid off.


I applied the very same principles of becoming extraordinary on the football field to my financial endeavors. I needed to continue learning and put the pieces into place so my investments would provide me with financial stability once I hung up my cleats for good.

After getting my feet wet with the Indiana home I had bought, I sold it and made a return of better than 125 percent on my investment. Not bad for my first experience in real estate investing.


Don’t skip over this section because you think you don’t have it in you. No skipping keys allowed! No matter what your circumstances are—if you are in a corporate job or are a budding entrepreneur—you have the ability to go from ordinary to extraordinary. Everyone does. Remember, if you think you can or you think you can’t, both are true. So why not choose can and become great at whatever it is you do!

But first, what does becoming extraordinary even mean? It means consistently working harder and improving your skill set, going beyond what’s mandatory, and doing what’s necessary to take yourself to the next level in your life and career.

Everyone does what’s mandatory. Most people go to work and do at least the minimum required at their job so they don’t get fired. Being extraordinary means going to work and doing more than what is required. It might mean showing up early or staying a little later, learning a new skill that can help your team, coming up with new ideas, and working efficiently.

Ask yourself, “Am I doing the bare minimum or am I finding ways to go beyond that and do what’s necessary for me to become the best I can be?” Maximize your potential in whatever it is you are pursuing, which in turn helps you flip the bag.

Write down your version of the American dream as well as your vision. If your vision is to launch a product that you invented, you need to hustle. That means using your time off to sell your product and let as many potential customers know that they need your product. It means using your time off to build a social media buzz in order to create publicity and reach out to vendors and stores.

The harder you work, the more opportunities you have for your sales to increase. Then one day you will have sold enough of your product to generate enough cash flow to hand in your letter of resignation. Believe in that and expect it. Once you can focus on your new business full time, you’ll make even more money and can leverage this success into additional income and opportunities. You will have achieved your version of the American dream. But first you need to become extraordinary.

Maybe you don’t want to leave your current job because you love what you do. Yet at the same time you want to make more money, get out of debt, and create a solid financial future. You need management to notice you. How? Ask for more responsibilities. Learn new skills. Volunteer for something. Come up with an idea that can help streamline your company’s business or practices or even just your job, and show them. When you go above and beyond like this, you will see that your earning potential is bolstered.

Improving your current skill set is the step that a lot of people skip. This adds value to you as an employee or as a business owner. Adding value allows you to make more money. Making more money will improve your financial situation, and this will catapult you to the next level of your financial dreams.

You can keep coming up with reasons or excuses about what is stopping you from becoming extraordinary. If you want to achieve something badly enough, however, nothing will stop you—you will start doing what’s necessary for you to get there.


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