BOLD: Are You Bold Enough to Be Different?
“I’m following all the great advice. I’m working my butt off. Yet I’m struggling to find my niche. Why?”
In this economy, there is one way to stand out among hundreds of would-be leaders, consultants and subject matter experts.
You must be BOLD enough… to be different.
By “different” I don’t mean dye your hair orange and get even more body art. Or go all Richard Sherman.
I mean be unique, in a professional way that makes people look at you and go, “Damn, I don’t know much about her… but she’s got balls.” Or in a way that makes others think, “Give him credit, he got up there… and did it.”
For example, check out this video:
Think that (very bold) guy will have any trouble being remembered? No. Why? Because we respect the bold. And we crave different.
So, what can you do to establish yourself as bold? As different? Here are some thoughts:
Be BOLD Enough to Be Passionate
Not the generic self-promotion (“I’m a passionate evangelist…”) included on almost every website and LinkedIn profile without substantiation. And certainly not the Tom-Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah’s-couch variety. The passion we all look for is when you clearly feel strongly about your niche – and won’t let anything stop you.
We respect the bold. And we crave different.
Most everyone is reserved, even introverted. It takes someone really bold to let their passions be known. And when that happens, the display of sincere, mission-driven passion quickly becomes contagious.
Be BOLD Enough to Say “No”
In my case, there have been two instances – totaling about six years of my professional life – where I wish I was brave enough to say no. In both cases, the culture sucked; the leadership had no direction; the mission was focused on making money rather than developing a solid product or valuable service. In both cases, however, the money offered was amazing. I rationalized the decisions to join those organizations for one reason: the money. I simply wasn’t bold enough to say “No.” Or rather, “Hell No!”
There will be times when you need to be brave enough – confident enough – to say “No, thank you”. A task you can’t possibly get done in time. A role you’re not ready for right now. A culture you know isn’t right. Be brave enough to walk away from these all-wrong, passion-sucking opportunities.
Be BOLD Enough to Ask, Listen and Learn
Almost every member of Club Struggling is afraid of one thing: looking stupid. Their egos can’t handle not knowing something critical. Their sense of self can’t deal with being wrong. You must be different.
On your way to absorbing every piece of knowledge your brain can hold, ask a million questions, then listen carefully to the answers. Be a sponge during networking events, self-learning moments and mentoring sessions. Absorb every keyword, technique and tool to better yourself and your value proposition.
Yes, once in a while you will look stupid. You just have to be bold enough to take that chance.
Be BOLD Enough to Be Yourself
All those self-doubting leaders and subject matter experts mentioned at the top of this post, the ones who said they were following all the great advice, doing exactly what they were supposed to do? To them, I submit: you are struggling because, just like everyone else, you are following all the advice commonly accepted as “best practices”. You are, just like everyone else, doing exactly what is expected of you. You’re a good follower. You’ve done all the right things.
Just like everyone else.
And, just like everyone else in “follow the leader” mode… you sound and act… just like everybody else.
You are struggling because, just like everyone else, you are following all the advice commonly accepted as “best practices”. You are, just like everyone else, doing exactly what is expected of you. You are a good follower.
Take a different approach. Determine what makes you stand out. Why do others love working with you? What are you really, really good at? What do you do that makes people smile? What about your personality makes them want to follow you?
Find that. Bottle that. Sell that.
Be yourself. Be different.
Ultimately, being bold isn’t so difficult. Forget what you’ve learned – and tried – so far. Start new; nothing is off limits. Display that passion. Say no. At every opportunity, learn.
Most importantly, be BOLD enough to be deliberately different.
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