“Whatever you do, be different – that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.”
– Anita Roddick (www.keepinspiringme.com)
Though Roddick’s quote aims directly at entrepreneurs, it easily applies to any other ambitious professional or social persona. Whether you want to be a successful doctor, teacher, community volunteer, real estate agent, scientist, fashion designer, writer etc, standing out is more of an asset than most educational resources emphasize.
The focus, generally (I admit even my own focus), seems to be geared toward fitting in to whatever field, genre or community you’ve set your sights on. There are many moments in my life where I focus on fitting in, being normal, projecting whatever it is I believe society wants to see.
However, the desire to “fit in” and “be normal,” if taken too seriously, can actually sabotage potential gains or promotions. There’s a fine balance between blending in and sticking out like a sore thumb. You want your fellows and superiors to notice you, but you don’t want them to run away from you either. Getting noticed is the first step toward moving up or getting what you want. No matter what field you’re in, entrepreneurship, art or philanthropy, shining just a little bit brighter than the stars around you in a social sense helps people to perceive you as a strong candidate for leadership, someone who could visibly light the way.
6 Subtle Ways to Stand Out (and increase like-ability)
1. Appearance. I know. How superficial. But if you use your appearance as a tool for self expression, it’s actually not superficial at all. In a sense, you are painting your dreams on your sleeve. A simple detail of your individual self in contrast to the appropriate or proper attire of the social setting, displays the balance of embracing the genre as well as adding your own touch to enhance. For example, you may be a lawyer surrounded by conservative colleagues, you may be quite conservative yourself, however, adding a brilliant brooch to your charcoal sleek suit will add intrigue and style, making others more likely to notice you at a luncheon.
2. Dialogue. Do your homework. During conversation, where typical field jargon is expected, insert a phenomenal detail, recently discovered facts or recently proposed methodology. You want to show how you’re one step ahead and just a little bit more invested in the subject than those around you.
3. Passion. Have an out of field passion. While you might be an award winning reading teacher, you might also be a beloved environmentalist. This shows diversity of ambition as well as a genuine passion that stems beyond any fiscal or professional gains. Make connections from your job to your passions. See if any recycling tactics can be applied in the classroom setting, show off and utilize some of the knowledge from your innate passions.
4. Kindness. Be kind to those around you. Offer to help carry a heavy box. Get the door. See if anyone needs anything before walking away. Make a compliment. You’d be surprised how much those around you neglect the power of kindness. Prioritizing kindness stands out in a crowd of self-involved achievers.
5. Intrigue. Ask questions. Convey interest in the lives and ambitions of those around you. People aways remember that person that wanted to hear more about their projects or lives.
6. Poise. Maintain your poise even if you hardly know anyone, even if the event is a disaster, even if you’re literally standing in a corner by yourself. Stand tall. Wit and posture can make any awkward moment pleasant and resonating. Instead of freaking out that the headline of your event is an hour late, make a clever joke, stay positive, hopeful and take the opportunity to show how well you can handle unexpected detours.
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