“Stop trying to be like everyone else. Just be yourself!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Don’t twist yourself into knots trying to conform! If you are unique, celebrate it and run with it – because that is often the key pathway to success.
Think about it – when you are true to yourself, you are more likely to pursue the passions and interests that bring you genuine joy and satisfaction, rather than doing the things which cause you misery and heartache. When you get rid of the shackles of conformity and the structures of groupthink, you can open up your mind to your true potential. Unique individuals have a much better opportunity to work in an environment that will foster, not hinder, their creativity and innovation. That will lead them to their true potential – because they see the world differently, their wandering mind can lead them to creative solutions and innovative ideas that they might not otherwise see. And that makes the journey rewarding – if they can create enough space for their uniqueness, they will often achieve a greater sense of self-fulfillment.
That’s why you’ll often see uniqueness triumph in the arts – think about Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Elton John. Each developed a unique style, personality, and image that was very much at the heart of much of their success. That uniqueness is both innate and developed through circumstance.
Lady Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, faced significant challenges during her childhood due to what she admitted was a unique and quirky personality. She was often ridiculed by her peers for her artistic bent – and she admits that led to feelings of isolation and self-doubt. This experience had a profound impact on her during her early school years, causing her to be someone who questioned her abilities – but who eventually discovered that self-worth by embracing her uniqueness rather than fighting it. The result was a musical style and stage persona that stood out in a world of commodity-like music. Similar stories are found in the uniqueness of many of those who excel in the arts, technology, and sports – wherein success only eventually comes about once the uniqueness of a skill or personality is embraced, rather than shunned.
This also holds for companies that have a unique brand, value proposition, and unique product or service – think about Apple! Being unique can give you a significant competitive advantage, because the ability to stand out in a crowded market, offering something that no one else does, fits the concept of the “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP) in marketing. That can lead to significant profitability because you are selling your product or service based on its uniqueness, rather than having to compete with others. In Apple’s case, they can command higher prices simply because their products stand above and alone in an otherwise crowded technology market. Uniqueness often goes to the very heart of a successful brand!
Behind Apple’s stunning success as one of the world’s most valuable companies lies the original uniqueness of its founders. Steve Wozniak was unique in his approach to the development of technology – he believed in the artistry of a beautiful circuitry design – something that continues to this day. And his co-founder, Steve Jobs, was stunningly unique, refusing to conform to the typical product model that was emerging in the early personal computer era. Rather than racing to develop computers that were like everyone else’s – running on the Microsoft platform – he had Apple pursue its unique product development path. The result was a series of products in which the value was found within the overall quality of the user experience, the ‘eco-system’ (or range of connectivity) built around the products, and the sheer ease of use. His vision carried through the years – using a Mac, an iPhone, or similar products implied design, simplicity, and ease of use – features that individuals were willing to pay a premium for. Jobs was obstinately unique in his commitment to this cause!
And yet, the fact is, in a world of conformity, it’s not easy being unique – embracing your uniqueness often involves stepping out of your comfort zone, which is a critical aspect of personal and professional growth. But doing so is very much a journey of self-discovery – it encourages you to explore and understand your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values.
The very process of doing so can help you identify not only what it is that makes you unique – but the ideas, innovations, and opportunities that can come from actually being unique.
(Midjourney prompt: “In a world of business in which everyone is the same, the creative genius stands out. That’s because he realizes he should stop trying to be like everyone else and just be himself –ar 16:9” – enhanced with the Inswap face-swap app!)
Don’t be like everyone else – be yourself!