One of my favourite books is The Element (How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything) by Sir Ken Robinson. The theme is broadly that our current Western education system kills creativity and rather than embracing uniqueness in children, we are moulded and shaped to fit in with what society expects of us.
I’d take this one step further and say that our education system also teaches us to get a job, not to understand and then follow our passions or our unique abilities. This results in a disengaged, disillusioned, adult workforce who we now see embracing entrepreneurism at an ever-increasing rate, in a bid to be able to do what they love, in a way they like, every day.
I firmly believe it is possible to do that both as a business owner and as an employee. One of the key steps in moving towards true fulfillment and happiness is to have choice: choice in what you do for a living; choice in who you work for (including yourself); choice in the contribution that you get to make to the world.
And to have choice, you have to create opportunities for yourself. To do that, it’s crucial that you are able to understand and articulate what it is that makes you unique, and what sets you apart from others.
A Fresh Perspective
My clients generally hate it when I ask them those very questions: What sets you apart? What makes you different from everyone else?
Most will say that they don’t believe they have any differentiating traits – that they are “nothing special”.
More often than not this response is due to a lack of confidence in themselves. Usually an external perspective – through a variety of activities I use such as psychometric testing, as well as good questioning and self-observation – is what they need to understand that they do in fact have unique qualities worth sharing with the world.
If you fall into this category, let me reassure you that you do have unique qualities. Here are 3 reasons I know this.
- THE WAY YOU DO THINGS: You have innate strengths, traits and talents – while of course others will share some of the same elements, the combination of these things together with other elements such as your life experience mean that you use these strengths, traits and talents to carry out your work in a way that is unique to you.
- THE EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE GAINED: Your life is made up a series of experiences. And you give a meaning to each experience, which forms the belief-set you carry with you, influencing all of your decision-making. No one else has the exact same life experience as you. No-one else has made exactly the same set of decisions that you have. This makes you unique.
- THE THINGS YOU LOVE AND LOVE TO HATE: When you are in your Element as described in Sir Ken Robinson’s book, it doesn’t matter if other people don’t get it, or you. In other words, you will love things that other people hate, and vice-versa. Again this will be a unique combination for you, and this impacts your engagement levels and what you put in, and get out of, work every day.
Finding your uniqueness matters because it allows you to create opportunities that give you choice – and ultimately that choice provides a platform for you to become truly engaged and fulfilled at work on a daily basis. Who doesn’t want that?
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