Meet Spark. Caught between two worlds, Spark was exactly like every other frog in his pond with one notable exception. Spark emerges from a tadpole with a slight but noticeable orange spot. And this orange spot makes Spark feel uncomfortably different.
What’s more, Spark begins to make a disconcerting observation; when Spark does things which make him feel better (and produce more positive results) the orange spots increase. Spark is left with a difficult decision; be normal, which makes him less conspicuous, or continue doing those things which make him happier, more productive and more orange.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a visible orange spot which can expand and tell us if we are in the right direction.
How then do you stand out in a crowd of 7.8 billion people?
Well, these tips will help
Not more but better work
Most people I know like taking on more work but not for the right reasons.
They want more work because they want to get paid more. More work so they can keep themselves busy. More work which helps them run away from confronting the real problems.
So if you want to stand out, try doing better work.
When you do better work, you don’t have to work long hours but the hours you do work, are the hours where you find yourself in the zone, completely focused. You lose track of time and the outside world and you genuinely care about blowing people away with the quality of your work.
While most financial planners spoke about saving, Ramit Sethi stood out because he decided to talk about investing and earning more.
When electric car companies were going bankrupt, Elon Musk decided to start one
Everybody advised Walt Disney against building theme parks. One trip to the park and you are thankful he didn’t listen.
Most of the population only cares about meeting deadlines. The ones who stand out, do the hard stuff and do it extremely well.
Marry your skill sets
You know what is better than having one skill set — having more than one. And you know what’s the best — marrying your many skill sets!
I am not the first one to propose this. The only thing extraordinary about this idea is you — because that is what marrying your skill sets will make you. In a world full of peanut butter and jelly toasts, you will be the toast with avocado on it.
Lots of people are good with data analysis so why not become someone who can analyze the data and tell a good story. If you think it is impossible, you haven’t heard of Nate Silver.
Thousands are good at marketing but you combine marketing with writing and blogging and you have yourself a Seth Godin.
If you can figure out how to grow a rose in a desert, you will become the oasis this world needs.
A lot of people I know have spent their entire lives in their comfort zones. Your comfort zone is like your Lazy Boy Recliner which will slowly put you to sleep. You wake up to find a lot has happened and the world has moved on!
Whenever you step out of your comfort zone, you end up expanding your skill set and come back with a better understanding of you as a person.
In college, the prospect of doing a presentation would make me sweat like a pig! So I decided to join a student organization which forced me to go out and do presentations to recruit more members. When I became too comfortable in America, I decided to shake things up and move to India.
Be Excited About Change
How many people you know get excited about change? And for good reason. Change has rendered a lot of people jobless, bankrupt companies, disrupted industries, destroyed economies and collapsed governments.
Change is mostly uncomfortable, radical, sudden or maybe even scary. Whether you are ready to accept it or not, change usually catches you off guard and leaves a pile of destruction on its way. At least that is the script everyone is familiar with.
All you have to do is flip it, and you will already, to quote Rihanna, “shine bright like a diamond.”
Because change has also created a lot of new jobs, billionaires, visionaries, and innovative ways of working. Change opens up a gold mine of opportunities! Befriend it before it becomes the norm and you will be like the phoenix who rises from its ashes.
Running towards change instead of running away from it will already put you on the road less traveled.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ~An old Zen saying.
Just like the pauses between the lines make the joke, it is the tranquility due to boredom that induces creative thinking.
As you sit idle, your subconscious starts forming new connections leading to new innovations and ideas.
But who sits idle these days? Our lives are filled with distractions that keep us away from what really matters in life. Majority of us are busy trying out new things, going to new places and meeting new people.
Bill Gates spends most of his time working or reading. Most CEOs dedicate their lives to their work. Steve Jobs wore the same turtleneck and drove the same Mercedes to work every day. Kobe Bryant-as exciting as his life might look from the outside-would hit 400 shots in practice daily.
The search for excitement rarely ever leads us to a life of substance. Great things are a result of small boring days filled with consistent action and discipline — which most of us are not ready to commit to.
Discuss Ideas Over People
People are boring. Ideas exciting. Yet, a lot of us choose the former over the latter.
Most conversations between two people involve complaining about a third person, finding faults, looking for pity and making fun or judgemental comments.
Ideas, on the other hand, make us look interesting. They stimulate our mind, help us dream! Anybody who has figured out a way to stand out from the crowd, has done so because they were excited about the possibilities of an idea and they went after it.
A lot of big companies today started because their founders found the idea exciting and interesting enough to chase it — which led to them standing out from the crowd.
Do I really need to make a stronger case for this one?
Dig for uncomfortable truths
To stand out, look for the uncomfortable truths instead of settling with the comfort of lies.
Hearing what we want makes us feel validated and massages our ego but the truth is like a cold shower which jolts us awake.
Millions of us avoid harsh realities because we fear the unfamiliar territory which comes with confronting it. In fact we feed off of the validation it brings. So we seek people who tend to agree with us, those who will feed us the lies we want to hear.
Confronting the truths will help you build character and self awareness. It will force you to change what you don’t like and in the process, make you stand out.
We all know someone who has anger management issues, an alcohol problem, a victim mentality or a strong racist bias — people who have made these a part of their identity and refuse to confront their beliefs.They live with their uncomfortable truths everyday instead of working to change them.
They hate their jobs, but still work there for years.
They have addictions they refuse to acknowledge.
Better yet, they have all this potential buried and forgotten about in exchange for fitting in!
Just because they are not strong enough to confront the uncomfortable truths or have the difficult conversations, they act like the problem doesn’t exist.
Don’t be that person.
Don’t Create A Resume. Craft a Soul
Big words I know! But crafting a sole will help you stand out from a crowd of thousands just like you, who have a college degree, do what you do for a living and breathing down your neck, ready to replace you within a moment’s notice.
“There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.
People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”
Crafting a spirit will enable you to paint your own vibrant orange spot. Instead of taking on more work, do better work. Try to find a connection where others see an outlier. While others sit back in their comfort zone, go looking for discomfort. Make it your friend.
Be excited about change but embrace living a boring life full of routine And whenever possible, discuss ideas over people. Ideas energize you and the people around you. Most people like complaining, comparing and finding faults. Try not to be most people. Instead of complaining, dig within for uncomfortable truths. Rather than avoiding harsh realities, sit with them, understand them so you can equip yourself to confront them.
In the end, you can run from others but can you run from yourself?
One More Thing…
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