There’s something programmed deep within us all that asks us to search out acceptance — to be welcomed into a tribe and given membership in a group of the like-minded. Something that’s larger than a family, and gives meaning to the things we identify with most strongly. A group that we can call home, even if it is at work, or church, or in sports teams or other establishments (salons/bars/centers/etc.).
And if we don’t get welcomed into groups like these, we can sometimes feel isolated, lonely, depressed and without value. So we spend amazing amounts of energy and time devoted to ‘fitting in’ with our peers — to adopt the manners, styles and mores of the groups to which we want to identify. Most people admit that this force to conform was strongest when they were in high school, but many people find that the urge remains long afterwards, and can continue to influence decisions well into adulthood. Many would say that our society at large depends on our ability to maintain some sense of social order, and one thing that is great about it can be that it can give you a good foundation from which to grow.
But for some of us, the pressure to continue to blend into a larger group can sometimes stifle us — and become a real hinderance to achieving our own potential.
Because there is also a place inside us all that knows that we are unlike anyone else. That we are unique and have a value, and gifts, and a spirit that is our own. That we stand apart. And this difference, although sometimes uncomfortable to express, can really matter when you’re making your way in the world, especially the corporate world.
Because who do you value most in your team? Who do you want on your team when looking at a crowd of candidates? Who do you see advancing up the corporate ladder? It’s not often that star players at work are people who consistently blend in. More often than not, you see excellence in people who have found something very special about themselves and have found a way to bring that trait out and take advantage of it to excel in their career. And if you think about it, there are actually very few jobs that don’t require excellence at something. With people that we socialize or work with, we are often drawn into people with that extra something, a little something special.
Highly successful people know what makes them special — think about Oprah, Sting, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson. Clearly, these people have been on journeys to discover what they have to offer. And each one’s story shows that identifying what your true skills are is as important as putting in the time to develop mastery in your chosen profession. So knowing your unique worth is a critical step in taking control of your future and becoming the master of your destiny.
Here are a few ideas about how to start learning how to stand out for all the right reasons:
Spend the time to think about what’s really important to you and where your talent and strengths lie. What are you most fulfilled doing? Gallup research has shown that in the United States, only about 32% of all employees are “engaged” and get to use their strengths in their work everyday. You’ll want to beat that average, and so you’ll need to know what keeps you going and gives you strength.
Get a Sounding Board
Try it out! Ask some people who know you well to ‘check you’ on your chosen path, and give their feedback on what you have identified as your key point of difference. “What makes me unique?” is a good way to start the conversation. If you’re talking with a good friend, they’ll be able to answer and get you thinking.
Count It Out
Start keeping track of your activities for a week or two, to see how often you’re getting to actively express your point of difference. See how often you’ve been blending in, and how you’ve felt when you’ve been able to shine.
Connect, On Your Terms
When you’re ready, start trying to engage with what makes you unique, and begin actively bringing it out more often. One friend of mine that always had a gift for talking to people about their futures had to quit his job in sales to be able to pursue his dream of working in Human Resources — where he now directs training for his co-workers. He’s happier than ever, and more productive to boot.
Watch for Changes
You’ll probably notice some changes immediately, but be sure to take note of how things start moving for you as time goes on. Some shifts in your mood or how you’re perceived by those around you may change slowly, too, so be sure to watch out for signs about how things are going as you begin to bring forward more of your authentic and special self.
What makes you special? Let me know with a comment!
MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of personal branding. Find out more here.