Find the Unique Sweet Spot
How do you get to the point where you can truly embrace the weirdness, or uniqueness if you prefer, that is you? This is a real solid challenge. We know it is because you and I can look around us and see people who have no clue even that they are unique, let alone what that uniqueness is. It is demonstrated in the way they jump on the latest fad as if they were missing the bus. They line up for hours to buy the very latest iPhone or gadget, gotta wear the latest fashion, toss down the most recent popular drink, or try the latest adventure.
When I was in college I applied for a job as a bartender at a local bar. When I told the manager I had no formal training, he waved aside with his hand in the air, and simply told me
“read Playboy every month and learn the featured drinks. That’s what these guys are gonna come in and ask for if they don’t want a beer!“
That’s a great example of how the majority of people simply will allow themselves to be led around, told what to like, what to drink, what to feel, and what to do. But you and I don’t desire to be that way; if you did you would have quit reading this several minutes ago. So how do we escape the trap of being like everyone else and be who we really are? Even more to the point, how do we do it in such a way that we add value to others and make a living and a life doing it?
Being unique, being weird, requires a special awareness of yourself that most others don’t have. It means you need to spend time identifying and understanding your gifts, unlocking your passion behind them, and reflecting how to best use those gifts to add value to others. See, we are all born with gifts that were bestowed upon us to be used to provide something unique in this world; something that only we can do. That gift is designed to be used for a special purpose. There is at least one someone waiting for us to come along and share that gift with them to make a difference in the world. Some of us will directly influence a small number of people, maybe even one. Some, like Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, or Tony Robbins may affect thousands or millions. The point isn’t how many but how you will influence them. So, identifying those gifts and learning to maximize them is the first step in preparing yourself to make that impact. That’s your purpose.
Applying Your Purpose
Once you have identified your gifts, it is imperative that you learn more about them and how to optimize them. You also need to learn the various ways in which your gifts can be used. The emphasis here needs to be on ways to use your gifts that benefit others. God did not give you a gift to use only on yourself; he blessed you so you can be a blessing to others. You must find that one way to use your gifts that allows you to provide maximum benefit. It will based, at least partially, on background and life experiences. We do not go through life randomly, even if we did not navigate it. Every job, every experience, no matter how unrelated, prepared us for that one way that we will have the most influence. Don’t de-value what you have done in the past just because it does not relate directly to what you want to do now. It was preparation. It was shaping you and molding you into what you are to become.
Now the real hard work begins. You have to do the work of actually applying it. You have to spend time EVERY DAY developing and honing those gifts. This is the start of a perpetual journey of growth. It never stops until you have reached the point of not being able to learn anything anymore. I mentioned in a previous post about Teddy Roosevelt that when he died they found under his pillow a self-improvement book he had been reading. Teddy knew that your entire life is a growth journey to challenge yourself to become more than you were yesterday.
Be a 1%er
That sounds overwhelming, but you can break it down into an easily manageable system. Focus simply on growing yourself by 1% a day. Committing yourself to being a 1%er means that over time you grow exponentially one day building on the next and at the end one year you have grown yourself OVER 365%! Remember that: become a 1%er.
And let’s make this a little easier: STOP WORKING ON YOUR WEAKNESSES. Conventional wisdom has always told us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and then work to improve our weaknesses. It is non-productive to focus on our weaknesses because if we work hard we can at best become mediocre at them; while at the same time we neglect our strengths and won’t prepared to get the most out of them. Focus instead on your strengths and your gifts. Overcome your weaknesses by finding others whose have strength where you are weak and team up with them to meet your goals.
The I in Team
That leads to the last point of this, which is what John Maxwell always reminds us of
One is too small a number to accomplish anything!
We are meant to be dependent upon others and work together to achieve great things. None of us is as smart as all of us. So while building upon your gifts you should also be building your team. Find people who have character you desire and are ready to buy into the vision of what you want to accomplish. Walk the path together and share the journey and share the treasures. Start it by being truly unique.
And remember, UNIQUE and UNITE both begin with UNI, meaning one. By developing your uniqueness and finding unique others, you can UNITE together to have a singular impact on this world.
A journey like that is worth starting today!
Follow your passion, not your pension – Denis Waitley
- Start identifying your unique gifts. There are lots of tools to help you here. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and DISC are a good start, but look to other less scientific tools as well, such as Stand-Out by Marcus Buckingham and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I am also a big fan of the Fascination Advantage Test by Sally Hogshead. I have tried them all and find these three to highly accurate and consistent. You may have to purchase a book for the access code to some of these, but it is well worth it.
- Think back to ways you have used those gifts in the past. Which times did you find yourself getting the greatest results? The greatest joy? When did you get lost in the moment while using your gifts? This will help you identify how you should use them.
- Plan and schedule your daily growth of those gifts. Remember the 1%.