I recently heard a successful performer on a popular TV show preface the advice she planned to give by saying: “I’m just a girl, but…” I almost came out of my chair. Did I hear her correctly? Was this beautiful, accomplished woman trying to diminish herself in front of her peers OR was it a backhanded way of seeking the spotlight?
Most people want to be recognized.
And it can be hard to avoid the temptation to become a shameless self-promoter. People say, “if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will” and there’s truth in that. It’s especially difficult to strike a balance if you’re marketing yourself, your small business or a brilliant new idea.
But people who shine from within don’t need the spotlight.
It IS possible to build value in what you offer so others are drawn to you. Your work doesn’t need to be eclipsed by the latest bright and shiny object. Bling can blind people. We’ve all watched the attention-getter crash and burn and the quiet, qualified person step in to save the day.
So how do you stand out without changing your personality to become something you’re not? Here are three ways:
- Create your own story. There is something unique about you – an adventure, a struggle, a discovery you’ve made. Bring it into your bio, your resume, your next conversation. Give people something interesting to remember you by. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Being adventurous isn’t bragging. Consider it an opportunity to add spark and sizzle to the lives of others. People hunger for inspiring stories.
- Build your own bright spot. What’s stopping YOU from creating the thing(s) you want to be part of? Take the initiative. Be a leader. You don’t have to wait for permission or for someone else to make it happen for you. Just because you didn’t get the job, the promotion or that new piece of business doesn’t mean you can’t put it into your life anyway. Act as though it’s true.
- Focus on the wallflowers. It’s easy to be drawn towards people who are popular, successful and larger than life. But it’s the person alone at the edge of the crowd who offers the best opportunity to have an impact. Come alongside those who others ignore. Introduce them. Refer them. Show an interest in who they are and what they do. These folks will never forget you and they may become your greatest advocates.
The world is full of opportunity. You are not limited by a job description, geography or competitors. There is always something different and better you can bring to the table!
- Ask ten people what they think you are good at. Eliminate what you dislike and try each day to build more of what you love into your daily routine.
- List your greatest struggles and what lessons you’ve learned from them. Can you help someone facing a similar challenge?
- Look for the problems. Even if they’re minor, you may have a solution that leads to something significant. The further you drive in the dark, the further your headlights will shine.
- Ask yourself, what am I feeling compelled to do? Then ask, what is my motivation? If it’s to create something that will change a life for the better, you’re on the right track!