Resident offers advice for becoming extraordinary

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 21, 2015

 Author William Allen signs copies of his book, “I’m Tired of Being Ordinary, Are You?” The self-help book is intended as a light read 
for those looking to be extraordinary.

Author William Allen signs copies of his book, “I’m Tired of Being Ordinary, Are You?” The self-help book is intended as a light read for those looking to be extraordinary.

Photo provided by William Allen


ROYAL OAK — There is nothing ordinary about resident William Allen.

Allen, 68, competes in powerlifting competitions as a deadlifter, traveled the world while in and out of the military, was a successful businessman, is a former marathon runner who still competes in a couple of half-marathons here and there, and recently added “author” to his résumé. Allen possesses a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Wayne State University.

Those around town may know him best for his snappy wardrobe, volunteer work, comedic sensibility or the tribute photo to his deceased cat, Smarty, which hung on the walls of the Royal Oak Animal Shelter.

Friend and former colleague Carolyn Cruse said that in their corporate days working for a large insurance company, she was a leader in operations while he was in corporate quality assurance. She said Allen reported on the performance of her areas of responsibility.

“Rather than just report, however, Bill agreed to work with me so that, collectively, we could improve not only how my area was performing, but how his area was identifying deficiencies,” Cruse said. “This process increased our performance considerably, and I believe only an extraordinary leader would have stepped out of his comfort zone and worked so diligently with an operational leader.”

During his corporate career as a middle manager, Allen would send out inspirational, sometimes comical thoughts of the week to coworkers. He sent those messages for 30 consecutive years. He liked to liven things up with a joke or a quote, or just something personal about his self-proclaimed journey from being ordinary.

“I’m sure in high school, if anybody would have even known I was in high school, I would have been voted mostly unlikely to succeed,” Allen joked. “But nobody actually knew I was there.”

While in retirement, one of Allen’s friends suggested he pull the messages together for a book. Allen’s supporters were in luck because he saved them all.

He gathered all of his wit, wisdom, jokes and life experiences into a self-published book titled “I’m Tired of Being Ordinary, Are You?”

Allen, a self-described lover of self-help books, said his intention with the book is to provide something light and entertaining that he hopes will help someone along the way.

“This book makes the difficult journey of becoming extraordinary a little easier and a lot more enjoyable,” he said.

The book is broken down into different traits that Allen believes each extraordinary person possesses.

Traits like courage, truthfulness, generosity and gratitude are broken down into 52 weekly lessons. Each lesson provides a joke, description of the trait the reader will be working on that week, an inspirational quote, and a movie relating to that weekly lesson. Other chapters include “Alcohol,” “Forgettaboutit” and “80/20 Rule.”

“I realize fifty-two may sound like a lot of traits for you to master,” Allen writes in his introduction. “However, I suspect that many of these traits are already second nature to you; otherwise, you would not have picked up this book.

“Therefore, mentioning many of the traits will simply serve as a reminder rather than something you will struggle to master.”

He said the practical insights build on one another from week to week.

“You will learn how to become an active participant in your life as you discover the wealth of potential within you, and discern how to use it to achieve the amazing life you’ve always wanted,” he said.

Allen said the quote is included in each chapter so readers can copy it down and carry it with them or post it.

For Allen, the humor is a must.

“Sometimes people remember the humor more than the content,” he said. “I tried to be really light with the content.”

Cruse said that as an aspiring writer, she was privileged to review the book throughout the writing process.

“That was a great learning experience regarding the dedication and commitment needed to actually produce the written word,” Cruse said. “What makes this book stand out, however, is that one can reference it by traits, get the encouragement to continue to improve where one’s deficiencies are, and, at the same time, find humor in the situation so that you don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Allen supplements his book with his blog at harmonybooks, which he updates weekly in the same format as the book.

He hopes that anyone who reads his book or his blog comes away with one important lesson.

“Never let the lack of ability get in your way,” he said.

Allen lives in Royal Oak with his wife, Carol, and cats, Bear and Misty.

He grew up in Warren before moving to Royal Oak.

“I came to Royal Oak, and I just love it here,” Allen said. “I like it so much my wife and I bought cemetery plots, so we’re here for good.”