What makes remarkable people remarkable? The 5 Be's they share
remarkable people

What Makes Remarkable People Remarkable – “The 5 Be’s” Stolen from Jonathan Fields

Lately, I came across the article You’ve got to be unapologetically you on Chris Guillebeau’s blog. The article is actually mainly a video from the opening speech by Jonathan Fields at the WDS 2016 (World Domination Summit). Luckily, I gave it a shot. I enjoyed the speech so much that I decided to write about it. So here we go.

In short, it’s about how extraordinary people live, or better, who they are so that they become extraordinary. It’s about what Jonathan Fields from Good Life Project calls the 5 be’s: “The consistent ways that people are in the world when they really are leaning into life. “


Let’s dive into the 5 be’s and find out what makes remarkable people remarkable.

1. Be intentional

“We have a tendency to wake up and the first thing we do is start checking stuff.”

First thing in the morning: checking your phone. Last thing in the evening: checking your phone. And what do we do all day long? Checking our fucking phones. (This study says the average American checks his phone 46 times a day. In some age groups it's almost the double.)

We’re reactive to other people’s agendas. If your buddy John decides to send you a bicycle accident video, you’ll watch it when you receive it. When John needs help with his thesis the night before deadline, you’ll run and give him a hand. Or when bloody John thinks it’s the perfect moment to call you, you’ll probably take it. Or at least you’re distracted and respond with “Sorry bro, I’m busy.”

And that’s how we spend our entire days: being busy & reactive. Jonathan Fields calls this “Death by 1000 To-Dos!” He states that we’re busy but not with the things that matter but with the things that are important to other people. “We’re minutely busy with other people’s agendas.” And that’s not how people with extraordinary lives live. They’re living intentional lives. They choose what they want to do and what not. They choose whether and how they respond to any given situation.

“When it comes to living a good life: you choose or you lose.”

Now, this reminds me of Stephen Covey’s first habit in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The first habit is to be proactive. And it’s all about being intentional. Covey says that we are responsible for our lives. And that comes from our ability to respond (responsibility – response-ability). So because we are able to choose our response to any given situation, we are responsible for our lives. Makes sense?

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

“Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose.” – Stephen Covey

If we live proactively, or intentionally, then we do what we do because we choose so. We take initiative and act the way we choose to. We don’t just wait and see but we’re intentional and act how we feel is right. Act or be acted upon. If we don’t live intentionally, then we get acted upon, and that’s when we’re living by other people’s agendas – busy & reactive.

The point is: Choose how you live your life. Choose what you want to be busy with. Or even whether or not you want to be busy. Be intentional and be proactive. Don’t let other people dictate your life. Don’t be reactive. Remember, between stimulus and response lies your greatest power, the freedom to choose. For example, when your phone rings, it doesn’t mean you need to take it now when it fits the other person’s agenda. Even better, turn your phone into airplane mode when you’re working on something. Easy-peasy. That’s an intentional decision.

Again: “When it comes to living a good life: you choose or you lose.”

2. Be open

“Fortune favors the open.”

This is straight-forward. “People who really lean into life and live good lives are open. They’re open to possibility, they’re open to experience in a way that frees them from limitations.”

I’ve found myself many times thinking “It must be like this.” But this was just my fixed mindset about something. It was only when I saw that it works in different ways that I could let go of the fixed belief. I wasn’t open at all. I was in my little bubble and was confident that this is how it has to be. All else was worse or wrong. In the last few years, I’ve become calmer and more relaxed and at the same time more open-minded.

What comes to my mind is this situation when I was a young child and I was helping my mum preparing lunch. My task: Peel potatoes. So little rugrat Jonas started peeling potatoes. All slowly and clumsy. Back then I was open-minded and let my mum show me an easier way. (Or, you could say, my mum wasn’t much open and immediately showed me how to peel potatoes the right way.)

Whether it’s peeling potatoes the right way or believing the earth is flat – we should be open to other possibilities. Holding firm beliefs about something is limiting. We’re then not open to other options.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Jonathan Fields recommends experiencing new things. This will broaden your mind and help you being open. Just because once we learned we should eat a lot of fruits doesn’t mean that is so. Just because once we’ve been told to work out with sets of three doesn’t mean that is so. Just because most people work 9 to 5 five days a week doesn’t mean that’s how we should do it. Stay open. There’s more than one way to peel a potato.

Don’t limit yourself with fixed beliefs. Be open and opportunities will pop up like mushrooms in a forest.

“When you open to possibility, the world becomes your playground.”

3. Be kind

“By the simple act of giving we can actually make a difference in other people’s lives and we can make a real difference in our own lives.”

This should be clear. I don’t think you just went: “What? Being kind. Well, fuck that, I hate other people.”

Jonathan Fields mentioned Adam Grant’s book Give and Take. In short, the book (and research) says that givers win no matter what. And being kind is a sort of giving. Whether you’re showing kindness with an honest smile, or you’re helping out somebody who needs your help, or whether you choose to spend your Saturday evening with your beloved grandparents.

Givers win.

So don’t give while expecting to get something in return. Giving itself is what you get in return. You benefit from giving itself. That’s great to know. Because from now on you can take the initiative and serve other people. Do the dishes in your flat. Prepare a healthy dish for your friends. Smile at strangers in the street (not in a creepy way obviously). Give and expect nothing in return. That’s true giving. So if you do the dishes, don’t expect anything. Not even a thank you. It’s ok. And don’t think that next time it’s not your turn to do the dishes. Remember: Givers win.

“Be the person your dog thinks you are.” – Anonymous
Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.

Our family dogs often let me feel their unconditional love.

“Giving, being kind and generous is a sign of grace, a sign of presence, it’s a sign of being here to live well and give well.”

4. Be you

“Before you can be unapologetically joyful, you’ve got to be unapologetically you.”

Well, this is probably the most difficult of the 5 be’s. Even if it sounds super easy. Just be yourself, right?

Let me ask you a question: How often do you say yes even if you think no? Or when was the last time you did something not because you thought it was the right thing to do but because you felt some kind of pressure?

For kids, that’s the most normal thing to do. It’s hard not to put the thumbtacks on the teachers chair if the cool kids you want to impress are cheering for you. But as adults, we need to learn to be unapologetically ourselves. This is hard. Because who the fuck are we anyway?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I can be unapologetically myself in situations when I feel completely confident. When I know that I’m doing my best. That’s when I feel like an unshakable rock. I do what I think is right to do. I say what I think is best to say. I laugh when I feel like laughing. I joke when I feel like joking. And that’s the situations when I feel best and when I’m in full bloom so to speak.

So yes, I guess Jonathan Fields is on to something when he states that you’re at your best when you’re unapologetically you. Which, of course, is not easy and needs some work from our part.

You can only be unapologetically you when you’ve got that inner confidence of what you do and who you are is completely ok. And this needs work. Especially when you’re new to something: First time on stage? Hard feeling fully confident. First day at your new job? Hard being completely yourself. First lesson in your yoga course? Hard feeling completely comfortable.

Being you is not easy. But I’m sure you agree that when you want to live at your best, you got to be unapologetically you.

“The moment we stand in ourselves is the moment that we live a foundation to really be unapologetically joyful.”

5. Be still

“You cannot be any of the other be’s until you can be still.”

“Stillness cultivates awareness. Without awareness how do you even know what kindness feels like or whether you’re being kind? Without awareness how do you even know what openness feels like or whether you’re being open? How do you even know if you’re being you if you don’t have the ability to zoom the lens out a little bit and actually see how you’re being in the world?”

He explains this neatly: If you’re not aware, you don’t know how you are. So how can you change without being aware of how you live your life? You simply can’t. Therefore it makes sense that you create awareness, presence, stillness, or whatever you want to call it, in your life.

Take a moment to step back. Breathe in and look inside. Where are you now?

Jonathan Fields explains that daily practice gives us the ability to zoom that lens out. This lets us observe ourselves better. And that’s exactly what we need to do in the first place in order to integrate the 4 other be’s in our lives.

Daily practice?

Practice stillness. Meditation. Onepointedness.

I recently learned about the latter from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever you go there you are.

“In Sanskrit, concentration is called Samadhi, or ‘onepointedness.’ Samadhi is developed and deepened by continually bringing the attention back to the breath every time in wanders.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

When we learn to be more present and become able to observe ourselves better, only then we can implement those 5 be’s in our lives. Let’s take the first one: be intentional. If you don’t realize that you unconsciously check your phone first thing in the morning, then how are you going to change? If you cannot observe that you constantly live by other people’s agendas, then how will you ever change? I mean, you can’t paint a horse pink if you don’t even see the horse in the first place.

Personally, I struggled with my automatic facial expression (just read on if you want to understand). Although I was happy inside, I was so lost in my thoughts that my face did what it wanted. So my face unconsciously went into this grimly position and people thought I was angry or pissed off or unfriendly or whatever. I only realized this because people told me. I then gradually changed. Today, it’s much easier because I’m less lost in my thoughts and I’m more present.

Now, maybe you realize that you live by other people’s agendas because Jonathan Fields told us. But you’re going to have trouble detecting it in your life when you’re living completely unaware. Therefore you need to be still, too. This will help you observe yourself so you can see things first-hand. Nobody will need to tell you that you’re living by other people’s agendas or that you’re a cranky face.

In the end

“A good live is not a place at which you arrive, it is a lens through which you see and create your world. We don’t get there. It’s not a place where someday we’ll be. It’s a choice we make now. The question is how will you be in the world? What will you choose as you choose to live? What lens will you put on as you move out into the world? ”

The question is how will you be in the world? What choices will you make?

In the end, how you live your life is your choice. Every day you can make choices how you want to live and who you want to be.

  • Are you kind and helpful or rude and selfish? You choose.
  • Do you live by other people’s agendas or do you live with intention? You choose.
  • Are you being yourself or are you wearing a mask? You choose.

You know what I like about the 5 be’s? It’s for everybody. You can apply at least some of those ideas immediately. You can be kind. And you can take time to be still. And you can try to be open and intentional. And you can work on being yourself in most life situations.

In the end, it’s all about the choices you make and how you choose to live your life. Author and blogger Mark Manson would say something like “In the end, it’s all about what you choose to give your fucks about.”

In that sense: Choose your fucks wisely.

Want more? Get our Top 7 Productivity Hacks. Just subscribe to our newsletter and you'll get them to your inbox.

Jonas Salzgeber

What's up? My name's Jonas. I'm Swiss (not Swedish). I'm a life enthusiast and I'm curious about everything that gives me an advantage, boost, level upgrade... "That drink will make me unbeatable? I'll down it!" Haha. My motto? Go to bed a little wiser every day & be the best version of yourself.

  • Alex says:

    Cool article. Reminds me of the Sun Tzu quote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

    Self-dominance is half the battle. Thanks for the summary.

  • Nate says:

    Awesome post Jonas… I definitely struggle with # 2, but I am working on it! P.S… love that adapted quote “Fortune favors the open.” – Brilliant!

    • Nate, thanks man!

      Good thing you know what you’re struggling with. That’s a starting point. You can only correct when you’re able to detect & observe the struggle.

  • Carla says:

    Just cane across your write up and it resonanted with me so effortlessly. I wish I knew more people who lived their life by these 5 B’s as you termed them.
    It can be a lonely place sometimes when you don’t have others like minded surrounding you. It was a breath of fresh air and just sheer joy to read this post today. Just brightened my morning knowing there are more out there who think alike.
    Thanks again for the lovely write up. Great job!!

    • Hi Carla,
      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad the read brightened your morning. There are many out there who think alike 🙂 Of that I’m sure!
      It’s in your power to get surrounded by like-minded people. Sure, it’s not easy to change the people you surround yourself with, but it’s definitely doable.

  • >