The importance of leaning into your uniqueness
I have a confession to make: I started my company not knowing exactly what I was going to do. OK, I feel better now that I got that off my chest.
Truthfully I spent a long time thinking about going off on my own, but not actually starting anything. I was frozen by the dreaded MFA_ and IGN acronyms. Don’t know these particular gems? Here they are:
- MFA_: My Friends Are bigger, better, bolder, smarter, etc.
- IGN: I Got Nuthin’ (unique to say…)
This is a big problem for many of us: we want to have a new and unique position but we compare ourselves to every person we know, including our former selves. We think that what defines our success needs to be compared to the success of others. We seek to be defined by the same standards (and same things) as our peers and friends. For many, while we want to be unique, we want to do it from the safety of being like everyone else.
For me, I had all my identity focused on what I “used to” be, and once did. I was comparing my potential with my past, and the trajectory of those that remained in the media realm. Of course I didn’t have a unique idea if I was trying to remain a production company executive (in mindset but not in position). What I forgot was that I left that track because I was ready to try something new. But now that “new” was part of my acronym-induced stagnation, one in which I was not able to see the uniqueness that is Patrick Jager.
So let’s dive into the idea of being unique, and how I adjusted my perspective, and if needed, how you adjust yours.
I love this definition: “unlike anything else” (synonym: unparalleled). Each of us can claim this. Every person is one of a kind, but like noted above, we seldom truly look to this as an asset or strength devoid of comparisons. Ironic that when asked about those we admire we almost always point out those distinguishing factors that are unique. But in ourselves, not so much.
Remember: being unique is infinately better than being perfect, or being like everyone else. Understanding your unique DNA and the core of who and what you are is all it takes to succeed. Your DNA is indeed irreplaceable. If you are not sure what your strengths are you have to dig. I’m a fan of coaches and masterminds. I’m a fan of consultants, staff or mentors who can help direct your focus and energy. And I’m a fan of personality and strength testing.
Recently I took the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, and while there are many assessments out there, this one is at the top of the analysis heap for me. Specifically, I like that it is solely a ranking of 34 abilities in the order of each person’s strength. The possibility of another person having the same exact order is 1 in 133 million. When you look at that number, I’m pretty damn unique. And so are you!
Of my top 15 traits, 7 are in the strategic thinking “think bigger” quadrant, 5 are in the influencer “grow bigger” quadrant, 2 are in execution “work harder” quadrant, and one is in the emotion “love deeper” quadrant. That does not mean that I am not emotional or I don’t know how to execute. But if I am going to lean into my strengths, I should focus on strategy and influencing outcomes, more than execution. And indeed, that is exactly what CORE Innovation Group is all about — a new type of strategy firm focused on helping clients think smarter and grow bigger by being true to what makes each unique. I had chosen that direction well before I’d taken this assessment. But this test — like any useful analytical tool — helps me refine and tighten who I am, what I do and how I do it. Being one that likes to see context, I put my results into a graphic visualization:
Understanding what makes you unique (should be) the #1 priority for every person and every business.
Once you understand what your strengths are, your job is to lean into that which makes you unique. Do this and you have the potential to flourish. Focus on your strengths and you no longer worry about the acronyms — the “what do my friends do better than me” or “I don’t have a unique idea that compares” moments. If you truly want to excel, you only need to worry about your unique, “1 out of 133 million” self.
My uniqueness is my ability to help at the macro level: strategy partnered up with the ability to translate ideas into concepts that elicit growth. And that uniqueness is something that none of my production counterparts as I can. It makes me and my services unique. So I no longer think about the acronyms or my similarities to others. I focus on my skills and how I can best serve others with my unique abilities.
How do you embrace your uniqueness? What do you do to get to your personal DNA and narrative? I’d love to hear your stories. I’d love to hear your Gallup results (if you take the test — do the $89 version where you can see all 34 skills) and if you need the support I’m happy to help you graph and focus your top 5, 10 or 15. [sidebar: I was told by my life coach that you should only focus on your top 10 or 15 skills — after that they aren’t part of your top motivators or personality identifiers.] Here’s to you and all that makes you one hellofa unique individual!
Patrick Jager is the CEO of CORE Innovation Group — expert strategy and implementation in media, communications and business development across a wide spectrum of industries.