October 10, 2019
In Career and especially Executive Coaching one of the fundamental challenges is how we go about distinguishing ourselves. Whether applying for a job, seeking a promotion, or attempting to make a sale, the successful individual is generally the person with not necessarily the best, but the most unique, skill or talent.
Given that there are now about 7.7B world residents with about 330MM in the US alone, the levels of competition are staggering. So what can differentiate you and me, in a positive way, from the rest?
We’ve seen the “sandwich board vendors,” the folks who stand curbside hawking a product or service. During tax season they may be in costume as Uncle Sam or the Statue of Liberty. Chick-Fil-A may have the person in the cow outfit. The business objective is to cause a potential customer to look, for just a moment, and then either drop in to the shop or consider visiting the enterprise in the future.
Each of us in a sense wears a sandwich board. It may be a physical attractiveness. Perhaps it’s a personality or an outgoingness that’s magnetic. Still others, those we might consider leaders, may permeate an aura such that it encourages others to want to follow.
We talk about someone having found their voice. That can of course apply musically or it can also refer to the state of being heard or recognized. There is the regal, larger than life intonation of a James Earl Jones, for instance. It might be the more homespun tongue of a Morgan Freeman. Sinatra was one of a kind. So would be the raspy Rod Stewart. The rock band U2’s front man’s vocals are so prolific that in their early days, Paul Hewson was labeled as “Bono Vox,” a Latin phrase for “good voice,” eventually shortened to Bono.
For those of us more moved by humility flamboyance is by no means a requirement for differentiation. Take for example two comedians, the late Tim Conway and Bob Newhart. They forged successful comedy careers through a self-deprecating sense of humor and portrayals of the everyday man. Former NFL coaches Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys and Bud Grant of the Minnesota Vikings appeared emotionless and stoic, yet on the gridiron sidelines emanated a quiet and in control professionalism.
A personal brand may even arise out of seemingly the worst of circumstances. Although the pathway of this woman is unconventional it illustrates the impact that anyone may have from anyplace. Watch:
What are the obstacles standing in the way of your embracing your brand?
· Fear of rejection? Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
· A limiting belief that you are not up to the task? The early Colonists won their fight for independence from British rule.
· The thought that people might scoff? The Wright Brothers paved the way for aviation.
· An inability to hear or see? Helen Keller’s story is famously inspirational.
· Business failure, lost sweetheart to death, defeated for political office seven times? Abraham Lincoln.
As is the case with the Subway Soprano and countless others, oftentimes our greatest achievements and challenges are manifested more out of struggles rather than our actual accomplishments. They represent the foundation on which our distinctive uniqueness is built.
What would that be for you?
The Seed Sower