You owe it to yourself to stand out from the crowd

You have something that no one else in this world has. You are one of a kind. You have a unique combination of skills, talents and gifts that no one else possesses. You have a unique path and journey to experience that is unlike anyone else’s. And there are people in the world who need what you have.

You might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about, but hear me out…

Remember when you were a child how imaginative and creative you were? You sang and danced and dressed up in the silliest of costumes you could think up and you thought you could do and be anything you wanted when you grew up. Remember when what anyone thought was so far from your mind, and you were just being you?

We live in a society that approves of people and businesses that conform. We’re expected to act and look a certain way. We’re expected to accomplish a list of specific things by externally defined milestones, and then we’re held up for comparison against others and given labels for what we’ve accomplished, or not. Consciously or unconsciously, for better or worse (usually worse), we give life to those labels.

Each time we give life to those labels, we shrink back to fit in. The more we “fit in”, the more we diminish our shine.

How would you live your life if you didn’t worry about what others thought about you? Would you live it the way you are right now? Would you be in the job you’re in? Wear the clothes you wear? Speak the way you do? Run your business the way you run it presently?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, what is continuing to do it the same way costing you?

Two years ago, I asked myself this same question. My life was vastly different from how it is now. I had been with the same company for close to eight years waiting to be promoted to the next step on the corporate ladder. In my mind, I had to move up, because that’s what you’re supposed to do to be successful in our society. I was feeling frustrated and deflated and stuck and I had back pain – lots of back pain!

I was suffocating, living a robotic existence of commuting, work, unwind in front of the TV. Rinse, repeat. I knew there was some specific contribution I was meant to make in the world – an untapped potential that was so desperate to emerge, it was becoming painful. It became clear to me that I didn’t want to one day look back and regret that I didn’t find a way to free that potential and make my own unique mark in the world. In that realization came another more profound one – I had choice. I always had choice, and in that moment, I decided to make the most risky, scariest decision I ever made. I decided to stand out from the crowd and do something many talk about, but rarely act on.

While I didn’t know what I was moving towards, the clarity and declaration of making a different choice rapidly opened up circumstances and opportunities that enabled me to leave my job five months later in the best possible way one could dream up. I didn’t have another job lined up (people thought I was crazy) nor had I started my own business as yet (it wasn’t even a thought in my mind).  Somehow I was OK with that, because I knew I would figure it out – my way – and I did. Oh and the back pain? It went away. Permanently.

There are people in the world who need what you have – that dream, that idea, the expression of your journey, that way of doing something that no one else does. In that space resides joy, fulfillment, passion, freedom and your unique imprint on the world. If this post resonates with you, let it be proof that just as that is, there are people out there waiting for you. You owe it to yourself to stand out from the crowd. Will you?

What’s one gift, talent, skill or idea you’ve held back on to “fit in”? How can you embrace it and begin making your unique imprint on the world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.