How To Stand Out, Not Just Fit In

Image found on the InternetWe all want to fit in, it’s true, nobody wants to be ostracized, but when it comes to being really successful you have to be a cut above the rest – you have to stand out! It’s certainly not easy, as part of standing out means setting yourself up for criticism and perhaps even being laughed at initially until your ideas take hold in people’s consciousness.
To stand out means that you cannot be mediocre. You cannot settle for average. Who wants average? Would you buy average? Perhaps once, if you were bamboozled into buying it somehow, but if your standards are high in what you buy, then you can’t expect to sell average products or services either. If you want ongoing sales, you have to always endeavour to improve and expand, not just settle for the ordinary and run of the mill.
To stand out, you cannot try to follow another’s path because their style of working or method of selling worked well for them.

The reason it did work for them was because it was their original and fresh idea shared with the world. It’s now done, it’s now seen, it’s old hat – even if it continues to work for its creator, that’s great, but what can you do, you the unique and individual, one and only – what can you bring to the world that’s not typical, not common, and totally fresh and innovative?
Can you find a way to bring your unique touch and personality to something average that will make it stand out? Make YOU stand out as its creator?
The answer lies in the individual threads that are woven into the substance of your being that comes from the deep well of your own personal visual library; a collection of ideas stemming from your childhood, holidays, everything you’ve read or ever seen. When these threads are cleverly included into your work or concepts, you will create unique ideas that connect with others. It’s this that people will admire and it’s this that leads people to connect with you emotionally in return.

Sales happen when people connect emotionally to what you produce.
This is what builds trust and the emotional impact your work has on a potential buyer or a follower is what creates a buzz, because this is what people share on the social networks. These are the ideas and images that go viral. These are the books, the paintings or the products that people long to own. Even in business, the same theory applies, because if your Hotel, your Bakery, your Shoe-shop or whatever it may be, offers that unique something different, the customers will be loyal to you or your services rather than someone else who’s offerings are middle-of-the-road.
“So how can I find my own voice and unique touch and make this difference?” you ask. We would all like a step-by-step manual but this is exactly what I am trying to express; because our culture has changed so dramatically where the old norms of following the Leader, or being another sheep in the flock is just not cracking it any longer, we now make the difference by creating and following our own path.
It’s scary, I agree, but it is the most valuable aspect of moving away from remaining second-rate or ordinary and achieving success today through originality and excellence.
I have devised a simple guideline with some ideas for you to peruse, of how you could assess ways you too can stand out and find the success you yearn for:

  • Mind Mapping
    Mind Mapping (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

    Step 1: Create a mind-map – start by jotting down all your likes and dislikes – but concentrate mainly on your favourite things, the things you love.

  • Step 2: Create another mind-map by noting all your own skills or areas of expertise. Note special talents. Dig deeper and fish for those abilities for which you have a flair – even if they don’t seem to relate to your current work or present field of competence. Just note everything you can do and enjoy doing, for example speak another language, take long hikes in nature or perhaps you have an aptitude for consultancy or public speaking? Write it all down until you cannot think of a single one further.
  • Step 3: Now brainstorm areas you feel there may be an opening in the market – a public need. This is the most difficult part as you’re perhaps asking, “how can lowly-little-me see a gap in the market?” I’m not asking you to reinvent the wheel or introduce mind-blowing creations such as the Internet, but to simply question if what you do, or would like to do, has a place in the market? For example, I introduced painting holidays as another facet to a guesthouse I own with my sister, because there are only two people in South Africa offering this extension to a vacation, I’m an artist and  could therefore offer workshops to travellers wishing to learn and be part of such an activity whilst experiencing another culture in our country. Evaluate where you could apply a skill you have to fulfil a public need.

Remember, nobody thought they needed sliced bread until it became readily available!

  • Step 4: Now scrutinize your sheets of scribblings and see if there are any ideas from one sheet that can be added to the first. Keep going adding categories to your original blocks, and insert some of the ideas that seem to be extensions of others as sub-catagories.
  • Step 5: Consider any remaining ideas that are unaccounted for and you cannot place them anywhere. Decide whether they are something to disregard or could these bear the very essence of that original quality you always overlook? Fiddle around with them at first and see how they could work with any of the others – even the most unlikely. It’s these unlikely combinations and juxtapositions, which give rise to the most outstanding and innovative ideas.

I understand that by now you have a myriad of possibilities and although you may be feeling the twinge of excitement at how many things you have an innate knack for or how many potential possibilities you now have that you could create – even perhaps a business for them all! You could also be feeling a dubious sense of inadequacy creep in as you are now too overwhelmed. The secret is to simplify these concepts until you have an almost abstract version of the original idea – this is its core, its bare soul. An artist endeavours to capture the soul of any object he or she paints so that it resonates with the viewer. Now, your soul would shine through your own creation or business idea in the same way!

  • Step 6: Concretize your main idea now into it’s own diagram – even create a mind-map of this one idea alone. You can tweak it and eliminate arbitory aspects until you have a solid breakdown of the concept. For art this could include the subject matter, the style and what media you intend to use. For a story you can weave a plot with these original concepts. For a business, you can now see an outline of the ideas you can inculcate into a strategy plan and introduce to the market, even if it’s an addition to your existing one, but is now fresher and more personalized.Image found on the Internet
  • Conclusion: You have now found your own unique voice – a foundation on which to base and build your own one-of-a-kind dexterity! From here you can develop a proficient amount of work that is truly you! You’re emotional about it and so it will touch others in the same way. Why settle for mediocrity when actually you’re BRILLIANT!

Inspired, you can get started on bringing your own contribution to this world and soon you will have others who admire your work and wish they could achieve the same. Never again will you be content to just accept fitting in, when you can stand out and be revered for it!


5 Replies to “How To Stand Out, Not Just Fit In”

  1. I like this. It makes a lot of sense. I’m quite resistant to self-improvement manuals and the like, people setting down steps for me to follow and setting me questions I can’t throw back with a request for clarification; but this is basically right and important.

    About the image, though, to be a bit mischievous: you illustrated the idea with a single bright humming-bird (or it may be a sunbird or even a bee-eater) among a lot of grey pigeons. But what if being yourself and unique meant being the only grey pigeon in a flock of humming-birds?

  2. Thanks Simon for your comments and I am pleased you enjoyed the post. I love your interesting perception on the image! You are right… what if you are the only grey pigeon in a flock of colourful hummingbirds? I believe we are all exceptional and the proverbial black sheep has just as much potential, perhaps even more drive to achieve and stand out as he or she understands being different early on – without getting too philosophical, I think they’re possibly more interesting than the others – who wants to be just like all the rest? But it’s essentially more about what they do than how they look. Writing the poems you do sets you apart Simon – I love your deep and creative mind and your words are thought-provoking and inspire others. Good work! This makes you outstanding!

  3. Karen, I love that bird painting! That’s a perfect illustration to your post. Those mind maps are great aren’t they? They’ve helped me in all aspects of my life, work, school…etc. :)

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