What is your differentiator ? Are you one of a crowd or do you stand apart ? What distinguishes you from ‘others’ and gives you that ‘cutting edge’ ?——— “I’m not like the rest. I’m different”. How often we hear people say this in varied contexts. To some extent it is true —— all of us are unique, different from each other. It is heartening to know that no two snowflakes are alike and all fingerprints are unique. Indeed, very few things in Nature are exactly alike : each cloud, every flower, tree, every leaf, and even water molecules are different from each other. Certainly, Nature never meant humans to be clones of each other. Our DNA, circumstances of birth, culture, upbringing, influences and exposure —- all ensure each individual has striking differences from another.
But we ignore that reality and pour ourselves into readily available casts. We model ourselves on available leads, become part of groups and lose our individual identities. Looking around for affirmations and approvals, we end up as clones of each other. Drowning the voice of our individual drummer, we march to tunes that have the stamp of “social approval”.
And yet the niggling voice within sometimes asserts itself, and we declare we are different. Of course we are. But, do we really appreciate or even understand our own “differentiator” ? Do we work upon and display these to our advantage ? “If you only read the books everyone is reading, you can only thing what everyone else thinking,” says Haruki Murakami inNORWEGIAN WOODS. True. And similarly, if you only do what everyone else is doing, wear what others are wearing, echo opinions and reflect attitudes you encounter elsewhere ——- YOU CAN ONLY BE ONE OF MANY.
If you want to lead a life less ordinary, it is important to create your differentiator and nurture. Just like a differentiator helps grow or kill a business, a differentiator for an individual gives him that “competitive edge” over others. This is what will make you stand out, be the one who is selected from amongst many, the cynosure of all eyes in a crowded room.
To identify your differentiators, focus on understanding and accepting yourself as you are, without wanting to be someone else. This will help you naturally gravitate towards things that enhance and add value to you. You will learn to develop skills and use these to your best advantage without looking around for guidance or waiting for a sign. You will develop your own individual personalities as well as style statements.
It is important to develop your signature style, be it personality traits, attitude or style statement. It could be the pursuit of a hobby that lifts you above the rest, or a philosophy or outlook you display.
Step out of boxes you have been taught to grow up within, and explore possibilities beyond. Consciously attempt to do things in your own unique way. Certain traits become the hallmark of a profession. Bureaucrats will be pompous, politicians will be smoothly devious, journalists will e intrusive, clerks will be irritable, scientists will be absent-minded, lawyers argumentative and doctors harried. But really, must you ? Some are smart enough to consciously step away from adopting the traits associated with a group or a profession., they develop their own differentiators and attitudes. These are the ones instantly marked “different”.
Different yes, but different from what ? It is very easy to be different if difference alone is the agenda. Wear strange clothes, walk in a strange manner, be rude amongst polite people and take on an anti-social stance. You are different. However, being subversive or an object of ridicule is not the point. Nor is the idea to stand out for the heck of it. Your differentiator has to be real and true to you, as you understand yourself. Then alone is it enticing and exciting.
Remember, in order to be effective, the differentiator has to define you and your agenda, not be the agenda itself.