“[Blending in] is the safer road, but it’s not the one that leads to success.”
I would suggest that blending in actually makes you vulnerable in your career. Those who blend in are overlooked for promotions and forgotten when new and exciting positions open. At best, they are known as being the “solid” player.
It’s not good enough to be excellent at what others do well. Without identifiable unique characteristics, you become another name in a crowd of identical contributors and pure chance or relationships will determine your fate. You must become known for both your excellent contributions and unique characteristics to avoid this.
Many clients come to me looking to identify their unique strategy to achieve professional fulfillment. It’s usually not just one thing that makes you different; it’s an intersection of several identifying characteristics. Here are questions to ask yourself to help you develop a strategy to make your mark in the workplace.
What comes naturally for you? Do you find it easy to speak to strangers? To analyze financial statements? To craft a visionary message? Notice what you do well and what comes easily to you, especially if others feel differently about the same task. That’s a clue to your uniqueness.
What peaks your curiosity? I’ve been a student of human behavior as long as I can remember. I have always been curious about what drives and motivates people. It’s not surprising that I have become a coach. Things that we want to understand better and learn more about reveal our interests.
At which experiences have you excelled? The longer you live, the more experience you’ll have. Some you performed better (and enjoyed more) than others. I’ve met many clients that were most excited about and good at jobs they had years ago. We discuss what made those jobs stand out and identify their unique contributions to each. This helps identify how to adjust your current situation.
When you speak about your work experiences, what gets you most excited? I spoke with a woman who was feeling rather down about a recent interview. She was asked a question that she felt revealed something she wasn’t qualified to do because she didn’t have the very specific experience. Yet when I asked her a couple of questions, she started beaming as she spoke about how she would have solved the problem, created a process for it and would have loved helping others solve it. Her energy shifted as she excitedly spelled out a solution to the problem she had been presented with. In a few sentences, her strengths and unique contribution to the situation became obvious. I would have hired her on the spot because I could tell immediately what value she would bring to the table.
What is important to you? Truly successful people possess a clarity of values and a firm commitment to live by them. That commitment may be publicly declared or subtly present. In all cases, it must be lived by example. It’s a part of your personal brand and what makes you unique.
Instead of blending in, BREAK OUT! and discover what unique characteristics and strengths will bring you professional fulfillment.