Embrace What Makes You Different to Make a Difference

UPDATED: January 9, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 7, 2023
what makes you different helps you stand out

We are moving into a decade where we’ll have to begin to embrace what makes us different instead of fitting in to get along. Gone are the days when you just showed up and did average work in an average time. Companies, businesses and organizations want people who stand out so that they can make a difference. You don’t make a difference by doing more of the same, you have to embrace what makes you different.

Many years ago, I had just started out in the speaking industry, and I had been watching the likes of Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn and Les Brown—all of the great motivational speakers who were popular at that time. One day I recognized that when I got up to speak, I was just mimicking what I had heard and seen. 

I was not an original voice. There was nothing different about me. I was more of the same. My audiences were not getting the best of me; they were getting a part of me, which was a need to fit in and not stand out. 

My life changed when my mentor said to me, “You weren’t born to fit in; you were born to be brilliant.” 

What makes you different helps you stand out

That became the combination that opened the vault of my soul from the inside out to recognize: A job is what you’re paid to do, but finding your spark is what you’re made to do.

When I embraced that, all of the sudden I woke up one day and said to myself, “I no longer want to fit in. I no longer want to conform. I want to disrupt my world and go in the opposite direction of what everyone else is doing.”

Here’s the deal: In this decade, when everybody is zigging, choose to zag. When everybody is saying, “It’s got to be done this way,” be willing to stand up, be the odd person out and walk in the opposite direction. 

That’s where your freedom is. 

Freedom is not being the “yes” person. It’s saying “no” to what doesn’t work for you, and “yes” to what wants to emerge. That’s how you make a difference.

At the beginning of the year, set the tone for the rest of the year. Start thinking ahead now and ask yourself: 

  • “What can I do right out the gate to set the tone for how I intend to be different and authentically myself for the rest of the year?”
  • “Where in my life have I been mimicking others, and how can I instead begin to use my original voice?”
  • “In what contexts can I anticipate I’ll need to zag when others zig?”

Write down your answers, and return to your notes at least once per quarter. Ask yourself, “Have I been embracing what makes me different?”

This article was published in January 2020 and has been updated. Photo by NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock

Simon T. Bailey is an international speaker, writer and personal transformation strategist. He is the author of Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc., and Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (his hometown team).