How To Set Yourself Apart From The Crowd

August 2, 2018

I feel like so many of us are struggling with how to differentiate ourselves from the millions of other {insert job title here} in our markets. We know we want to be unique, but a lot of us are getting caught in a very particular trap. Like moths to a flame we can’t help it, we just find ourselves doing the one thing that is going to give us the very result we are fighting so hard against:

We spend too much time looking at what other people in our industry are doing, and then waste our precious time trying to keep up with them instead of interacting with the most important people in our businesses–our clients. The bad thing about this is that a LOT of us are doing it. But, the good thing about this is that a LOT of us are doing it.

Why it’s bad: This should be pretty obvious, but if it’s not, copying what the person next to you is doing is particularly detrimental to your business because you end up sounding exactly like everyone else. Your ideal client is not going to remember you if there is nothing different about you and the next person. If you see someone hopping on certain bandwagon only to achieve a little bit of success, I know it can be tempting to want to copy them, but you can’t clamor for a seat and expect to see the same results. Yes, success leaves clues, but it doesn’t leave a detailed map that will work for YOU. You need to take the time to explore what that looks like for yourself.

Why it’s good: Well besides not feeling like we need to immediately dive into a shame spiral because we fell prey to this trap, it’s actually good because if everyone is doing it it’s going to be pretty easy to separate yourself from the pack. All you have to do, is do something different.

What do I mean when I say do something different?

Do you. Be you. Do what YOU want to do. Don’t worry about what other people are doing–that’s their path. Instead, worry about taking the strategies that may have worked for others. Adapt them so that they work for you. Or use another person’s idea to get your brain working. Think up ways that you could capitalize on an aspect of your own business that you hadn’t considered before. But stop trying doing exactly the same thing as someone else in hopes that you’ll be able to make it work for you and achieve the success you’re after. In the wise words of Regina George, “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen,” so stop trying to follow a path that is not meant for you. 

Ok, so if it’s that easy why isn’t everyone just being themselves and doing what works for them?

Here are my best guesses:

  • They’re scared. They want the path to be well lit and well traveled. If it’s not, they’re not interested. Being vulnerable by taking a chance on an out-of-the-box idea is scary AF. I totally get it! A lot of us feel this way by default, so it’s a hard habit to break.

How to overcome it: Look at everything like an experiment. If you don’t look at this next move, like it’s your one and ONLY chance for a big break there isn’t as much pressure on it. If this idea doesn’t work you’ll have another on standby ready to go and you’ll keep it moving. And let’s be honest, chances are this situation isn’t do or die, especially if you keep doing. A lot of people stumbled across their “big break” not because they were lucky, but because they kept trying.

  • They aren’t sure what it looks like to be “them.” They consume before they create.and don’t know where someone else’s idea begins and theirs ends. They haven’t taken the time to sit down and actually brainstorm some ideas that really light them up. While it’s ok to have someone else’s content spark an idea for you, it’s up to you to give YOUR take on it. Don’t just regurgitate theirs!

How to overcome it: Take a content break. Stop scrolling feeds. Stop listening to podcasts, and reading the latest hot title. If it’s going to make it difficult for you to come up with your own ideas, block it all out! Sit down and start brainstorming. I can’t say this enough. How many of us are guilty of “thinking about things”/spending a few minutes thinking and scrolling until our lack of attention spans leave us distracted and take us down some random rabbit hole? It’s like we’re “California stopping” when it comes to taking the time to sit still and come up with great ideas. It doesn’t count–just ask a cop!

So put on a timer for 20-30 minutes and give yourself a distraction free zone to think. You can journal, draw, chart, or do whatever keeps you focused in order to record your ideas. Start by asking yourself questions like:

        1. What am I struggling with right now?
        2. What did I recently notice a client struggling with?
        3. Am I learning/implementing something in my own life or business that I would love to share with others?

  • They don’t capitalize on ideas when they come so they start fishing for ideas from their competitors. Do you ever get a brilliant idea for a post or some other content but when you go back to expand on it, it’s gone? It’s like a lightbulb moment for you when something new that you hear connects with something you’ve already experienced. But if you don’t write it down in as much detail as possible you lose it. It’s like that idea dried up because you let it slip through your fingers. You should have instead claimed it as your own and anchored it in your mind.

How to overcome it: Have a method for capturing ideas–text yourself, voice text yourself, have a notes page on your phone or a google doc, whatever it is just write down your idea and all of the other little “tangent ideas” that help explain it. Provide as much detail as possible and get back to that idea ASAP. Don’t let it sit for too long or it’ll dissolve into your mind and you’ll be kicking yourself.

This list is obviously not exhaustive. Maybe not all of these reasons apply to you all the time. But I’m sure at one point you could relate to each these roadblocks when it comes to why you’ve taken the well traveled path instead of the one with your name on it. That being said, here’s your gentle reminder to do you boo-boo because we’re all waiting for what you are supposed to share with us in a way that only you can share it.

Thanks for reading friend,  

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