Meet Eduard Ezeanu. A regular commentor here on the blog, today he’s giving us some fabulous, tangible advice on how we can be extraordinary.
One thing which I find amusing is how most people expect to get out of the ordinary success and satisfaction in their careers, without doing or being themselves out of the ordinary. They hope that just working hard will be enough.
The world of work is in my perspective filled with people who are walking clichés. They dress like everyone else, they act by the same rules and they say the same things in only slightly different words. When you suggest to them doing, thinking or saying something which is beyond the conventional, they pin you to the wall for being inappropriate or breaking the norms.
Differentiation is the key
Being different in the workplace seems to be a misunderstood factor. Being different is not the same as being competent. And competence is also an important factor for a great career. But it is not enough. Differentiation is what allows you to make the best use of competence.
Differentiation is like a bridge which creates the proper context for your work to reach the right target. When instead of being a cliché, you are different, this allows you to stand out. And when you stand out, three essential things happen:
- You get noticed;
- You get remembered;
- People get curious about you.
And from there, all sorts of great things can happen in your career, which the conventional worker or businessman rarely sees happening. I believe that most people need conscious practice and guidance to learn how do differentiate themselves and stand out. So, here are my main points for not being a cliché:
- Understand your uniqueness. Differentiation starts with knowing yourself and especially what makes you unique. It’s much harder to stand out if you don’t have a good idea what are the ways that you specifically can stand out. Take some time to really get to know yourself and to answer questions like:
- What are my unique strengths?
- What values that I believe in make me stand out?
- What is unconventional about the way I live my life?
- Dress with attitude. The first impression you create is by the way you look. And this is your first chance to differentiate yourself. Move away from the conventional business uniform and add something unique to it, which makes you stand out visually from the crowd. For example, I will usually wear a business suit, which is conventional, but it will have a light color and I will not wear a tie, which is unconventional and allows me to stand out the moment you see me.
- Talk spontaneously. A common pattern for people in the workplace is to think too much before they say anything, and make sure what comes out of their mouth is always safe, is always the right thing. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for never standing out. Give yourself permission to be spontaneous when you talk at least to some extent, and you will express more of those thoughts which make you unique, in your unique way.
- Express the divergent opinions. In particular, one thing most people will avoid expressing at work is those opinions which are different from the opinions of other people. They are afraid to upset someone, to take risks. It’s one of those things you will need to push through. Divergent opinions are one of the critical ways to differentiate yourself, and it’s essential to put a lot of them on the table.
Ultimately, in my perspective, differentiation is about understanding that deep inside, you are a unique person who naturally stands out. Your task is to let that uniqueness out in everything: what you say, what you do, how you look, how you live. This is the key to getting ahead by not being a cliché.
Eduard Ezeanu is a communication coach with an attitude-based approach. He helps others to improve people skills they find relevant and get top notch results. He also writes on his blog, People Skills Decoded.