Seven Traits of the Highly Remarkable Man

Article by Kinowear contributor Jonathan Mead; follow him on twitter.

Have you ever heard someone speak and felt compelled to soak up every word? You just want to know them, be around them and learn from. That’s the mark of a remarkable person.

While some people are born with an enigmatic quality, most people become that way willfully. Many highly charismatic, magnetic people didn’t get that way by accident. They didn’t stumble upon greatness; they became great deliberately.

I’ve learned that there are certain traits that can be studied, practiced and learned that will make you remarkable. But before I get into that, I should warn you that the path of the outstanding man is not the smoothest or most gentle. Timidity and shrinking has no place in the path of greatness. If you’re looking for something easy, try your luck on lotto tickets or celebrity impersonation. But if you want to be a real superhero, read on.

So here’s what you have to do…

1. Unabashedly accept your remarkability.

This isn’t about being an ego maniac (see: Kanye West), it’s about being fully grounded in your own unique genius. Everyone has natural-born raw talent in something. (Note: If you’re not sure what your inherent strengths are, get this book: Strength Finder 2.0.) Being remarkable is about unabashedly accepting your one-of-a-kind talents.

The truly great man knows he is great, but doesn’t feel he has to prove it. He doesn’t parade himself around like some beyond-human guru. He is subtle. In a disagreement, he will let you have the upper hand. He will make you feel better about yourself because he doesn’t need to belittle others to inflate his self esteem. But while he is humble, he has a certain air of confidence, what the French describe as “je ne sais quoi” (I don’t know what).

When you’re remarkable, you know it. But you also know you put your pants on the same way as everyone else.

2. Have a natural desire for exceeding the status quo.

It’s been wisely said that “perfection is the enemy of the good.” I personally reject the ambition to attain complete perfection in my personal and professional pursuits. I know that sometimes doing things “good enough” is much smarter. Sometimes the law of diminishing returns proves to be accurate. For example, the impact on productivity of having a fairly organized workspace vs. one that is immaculate, is negligible. It’s a much bigger investment to obsess about perfection than to settle for something functional.

While all truly prolific people know this, they also can’t help but want to exceed and push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. The remarkable man wants more than just average. He wants to excel and master his endeavors.

3. Work while everyone else is sleeping.

I know first hand the value of doing your research and working smart. It’s the difference between doing blind cold calls endlessly and actually taking the time to research how to market and how to sell yourself. Despite the importance of working smart, if you want to be remarkable, you’ll need to go beyond the bar of what’s expected.

You’ll work while other people are sleeping. You’ll work while other people are watching TV and while your friends are playing World of Warcraft. Whatever you seek to master, you’ll think about it when you’re driving. You’ll dream about it at night. And when you’re not working on it, you’re thinking about how you can work at it better and more efficiently.

The path of greatness requires sacrifice.

4. Seek out the unconventional, unnoticed, untapped.

Being remarkable is largely about being masterful. To become a master, you’ll need to explore the fringes of your craft that often go unnoticed or dismissed by others. As a martial artist, I’ve discovered that this makes a huge difference between the novice and the master. A master will not just go through the techniques and the motions. He will study body mechanics, speed training, elusiveness, feinting, economy of motion and minimizing telegraphing.

Not only that, but a true master of martial arts won’t just immerse them self in the study of martial arts, but in training the whole body and the whole mind. They will research unconventional methods of meditation and becoming more aware of the body. They will study philosophy and cultivate a positive attitude. In exercising the body, they will seek out every method of training they can find. They will delve into training methods that other people might find strange or weird. But they don’t just seek out unconventional methods for the sake of being different; it’s in an attempt to train holistically, not leaving anything untapped or undiscovered or uncharted. Once you’ve tried it, you determine what works and discard what doesn’t.

The remarkable man pays attention when everyone else is distracted. He sees the sleight of hand the magician conceals. He listens when everyone else is speaking. He looks where no one thinks to look and has an intuitive sense for picking up on cues and clues that would often go overlooked.

5. Accept that you will be controversial.

Most people are satisfied with the same boring routine. They go to the same boring job, answer the same boring calls and go to the same boring meetings. They talk to boring people and drink boring coffee. They may complain about their lives, but they don’t care enough to do something about it.

These are the kind of people that would love to hold you down and keep you on the ground. Your fearlessness gives them discomfort. You arouse in them the sleeping giant of potential that they’ve long since silenced. These people will have strong opinions about what you do, but at the same time, will unceasingly defend their mediocrity.

Realize that there will be a lot of people like this. Don’t shun them, but ignore them. When they rebuke, the remarkable man simply smiles.

6. Get a mentor.

If you want to become great, you’ll need to seek out the mentorship of others that have achieved greatness. For example, if you want to be a entrepreneur, you’ll need to seek out the advice of other successful business owners. If you want to be a great athlete, you’ll need to study under other great players.

This doesn’t mean that you need to actually live with Michael Jordan or have an apprenticeship with Stephen King, you just need to study them. With a simple library card, you can get biographies and books that will allow you to carry your teachers with you in your messenger bag. Who knows, your greatest teachers might be dead.

Except having great mentors, one of the fastest ways to excel at your endeavor is to surround yourself with people that have already done what you’re trying to do. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you wouldn’t want to associate only with employees, you’d want to seek out the company of business owners. If you want to be a software developer, you wouldn’t want to talk to the convenient store clerk. You’d want to seek out and surround yourself with other experienced programmers that have already created successful software applications.

A truly remarkable man knows that he is forever a student and can always learn something from even the most unexpected sources.

7. Live on the edges.

This is probably the most important quality of the remarkable man. If you’re going to pay attention to anything, pay attention now. You can’t be remarkable by simply “doing what works,” following a pre-made template for life and keeping your head down and nose to the grindstone.

If you want to be more than just a pawn, you’re going to have to take control of the game. You’ll need to decide how your life is played, instead of living by default.

Remarkability means questioning authority and living on your own terms. You see rules as crutches for those that live their lives unexamined. The extraordinary man knows that often “collective wisdom” is really a big, fat collective assumption.

You see limits as imaginary lines. You understand that most obstacles are not physical, but psychic. You see fears and beliefs as only true in your mind.

If you truly want to live fully, you recognize that you must live on the edges. When other people are afraid to express their feelings, you speak. When others ask “Why me?” you ask “Why not?” When being true to yourself may mean that you’re unpopular, there is no question to you about the choice you’ll make.

Closing thoughts

There is no question that living the prolific life is not for everyone. It should also be noted that it requires a lot of energy to be remarkable all the time. You should spend equal amounts of time recharging and replenishing your sources of energy.

Even if your aim isn’t to become James Dean or Johnny Depp, opting to cultivate these traits in yourself to some degree couldn’t hurt. Maybe a version of “remarkability lite” would serve you better.

So what do you think? What makes a man truly remarkable?

Is it that he follows his dreams?

This article was written by Kinowear contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind. To learn more about how to break away from the herd, grab a subscription to Illuminated Mind.

PS: If you want to break out of Cubicle Jail, check out his new book, Reclaim Your Dreams – An Uncommon Guide to Living on Your Own Terms. Can you afford to let another day, month, year slip away without following your dreams?

  • Russell says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. We have to lean out over the edge and see how far we can push ourselves. Only by pushing limits do we find where our real limits, if any, lie. Thanks for sharng this.

  • Miggy says:

    Highly enlightening post. The road to becoming remarkable is not a walk in a park, definitely not a piece of cake either. But I truly believe that those who want to get the top fruit, has to climb the tree and get it himself.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • 6. Get a mentor.

    I love this one. Mentors have such a powerful ability to inspire me, and I have more than one! Without sounding sucky, you are actually one of those people I count as a “mentor”. You’ve made the path for others to follow. Leo Baubata would be another mentor of mine, and most likely will remain that way for some time. Stephen Kings semi-autobiographical book “on writing” is constantly in my handbag and I’m always on the lookout for more inspiring people to use as mentors. You could say I collect them!

  • I finished reading your latest post on Illuminated Mind a couple of hours ago, and now I’ve found this new one that surprises me again.

    I think that you’ve written quite an insightful article, that is also engaging and thought-provoking.

    With regard to one of your questions, I’d like to say that one of the things that makes a man remarkable is knowing where his treasure is, and living his life accordingly, while developing his full potential as a human being.

    As the Bible says: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. The way I see it, that’s an axiomatic truth: your heart (your passion, your dreams) cannot be anywhere but where your real treasure is. But it’s not always easy to find out what is it that you treasure most. In order to accomplish that, a man must know himself. And I think that a man that truly knows himself deserves to be considered remarkable.

    Thanks once again for sharing your thoughts. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  • Yavor says:

    I’ll summarize my take home points for myself (and other lazy b******s)

    – doesn’t feel he has to prove it
    – hustling – Work while everyone else is sleeping
    – The remarkable man pays attention when everyone else is distracted
    – Get a mentor you just need to study them

  • Amber says:

    Incredible work Johnathan! Being remarkable is a road rarely traveled because it is so full of hills and valleys. In the past year or so I have officially let my wheels come off. Living life full throttle, taking risks and seeing big results. We all just need to get over our fear of failing. You are a true example of such a remarkable individual who goes against the grain and reaps the benefits. Thanks for your ever present inspiration. I also love the idea of finding multiple mentors. I must do this! Fabulous read!

  • IvánPérez says:

    Jonathan words are excellent as usually.

  • Shar says:

    After reading this, I immediately sought out a mentor. That was an amazing tip. Hopefully, I’ll learn a lot about life from her.

    Your site is amazing. It has totally changed the way I express myself. Thanks for updating this blog and improving people’s lives.

  • Thank you so much for this brilliant article. It is tough being extraordinary! It reminds me of a story of a certain type of crab. When they are all placed in a bucket together, one will manage to get his claw over the rim to pull himself out. The others all latch on to him and pull him back into the bucket!

    People will try and put you off being extraordinary as it forces them to confront their own mediocrity.

    By hanging out with like-minded individuals and reading blogs like this, we can stay focussed and committed to our goals.

    Remember that life begins at the end of your comfort zone!

  • Ismael N. says:

    another thing to bare in mind


    expect to find the people who you consider your peers, your friends and maybe even family to at some point disapprove of what you are becoming. this is fine, people are afraid of change and of what they do not understand and to become great you will need to transform yourself into something great, into something different, into your BEST self and stay there. this will be difficult because you may find the people you spend time with the most no longer suit you. you want to go out and experience the world but they may prefer to just stay and watch the idiot box at home all day.

    you will then be forced to choose between greatness and growth or returning to who you were in the begging…..choose wisely.

    if you choose the higher path you may find yourself alone for a short time. but worrie not you will find that you are too busy to miss them and that you know have a completely different set of individuals whom you spend your time with, whom share your interests, whom do what you do or want to do.

    My 25 cents on the subject…

  • BridgetGC says:

    Great post! As well as StrengthsFinder, another fabulous tool for understanding your strengths is the VIA Inventory of Strengths, which you can get for free from It’s part of a University of Pennsylvania research programme, so you have to register, but it’s well worth it. Also lots of other free assessments there which you can use to improve your well-being.
    Best wishes

  • @ Miggy: It’s all about being smart too. Sometimes the fruit at the bottom will be better, and sometimes the stuff at the top will be more delicious. In other words, it’s not about working hard *just to work hard* but knowing when it will benefit you.

    @ Vanessa: Your story of the crab sums it up so well. May we all transcend the bucket. =)

  • Lewis says:

    Very inspiring. Very honest. Very rich in information. Excellent job.

  • Kien Quan says:

    I broke down and wept last night……this article hit me hard in the stomach of what I haven’t been doing

  • Jim says:

    Now this is a good, informative post.

  • JJ Jalopy says:

    This is an incredible post!

    You’re right – the productive life is not for everyone, but this is a great rule book for mastery at that life.

    Great stuff!
    JJ Jalopy

  • really liked number 1, specially the ego distinction and being grounded.

    number 2 aswell. prolly the main determinant in all the success i’ve had is the burning desire to be remarkable, not to be better but to do well for me.

    number 6 too. mentors are amazing, speciallty in the perspective you gain and the time that you don’t waste making mistakes you can learn from them.

    like the picture too.

    inspiring stuff. feel super amped to make something happen!


    alex – unleash reality

  • Arthur says:

    Wow, this is an amazing post and I certainly got a lot from it.

    However, I”m a little curious about 3. Work while everyone else is sleeping.

    I know you already get this Jae, however just to talk about the other elements of working can be fun, words are so inefficient, so many layers and such.

    The other side is doing these “extra effort stuff” only when it feels right, and not grinding it out. And at times, maybe play that World of Warcraft game with that friend, when that friend knows everything about the stock market and that’s the only time he gives you his best advice on it. Or watch T.V to get ideas for your latest blog post.

    Love your post, rock on’.

  • Meghan says:

    Really Inspiring Blog!! I sometimes wonder why I can’t just live the status quo. Why can’t I just be content to go to my job, come home, eat dinner, watch TV & go to bed? Why must I strive to achieve?

    Also should point out that your post describes 7 traits of the highly remarkable woman, too.

  • Ralph says:

    “Work while everyone else is sleeping” I love it!! I start my day at 3 am at least 5 days a week; voluntarily. This list is so true. Really good stuff. I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve been here.

  • Rushan says:

    very inspiring! theres alot to learn from this post. thank you Jonathan

  • muthukumaran says:

    Johnathan Mead, thank you .Excellent write up. I had been asking myself many questions and some of them are answered.Personally it is at the right moment of my life. Thank you

  • chinedu says:

    I motivating post, i really like it, it wakes up the sleepin gaint in you.

  • I have found great ideas on this site and I will bookmark it for later.

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