The fact is, there is no public path….we are all different!
There is no one quite like you; your likes and dislikes, what makes you smile, what makes you cry, what makes your heart beat faster, what makes you laugh out loud, what scares you and what makes you feel bored.
But how often have you found yourself following the crowd, conforming to the majority, quite happy to be the sheep in the middle of the herd rather than standing out and risking that feeling of being an outsider or even worse a social reject. It’s seems easier to blend into the crowd with everything from our clothes to our opinions. Keeping the water smooth and the fur unruffled.
Some degree of conformity is necessary for societies to function – cars stop at red traffic lights, children go to school, we respect other peoples’ property.
But consciously remembering and recognising your uniqueness, your likes and dislikes will bring back (or unearth) the depth and vibrancy in your life.
The more you conform the more you lose that exclusive jewel that only you have.
Know what you stand for. Question how really important it is that these people like you.
Are you doing something just so that your colleagues have a higher opinion of you?
Is the latest fashion really your thing?
Do you really need to buy the latest hi tech coffee machine just because everyone else is?
Society, fashion magazines and the latest health guru are always telling us what is the ‘right’ thing to do, eat and wear. So be on the alert.
If you follow the rules of others it will be like wearing some one else’s clothes…they’ll will never fit you.
Frontline Thinking – My 4 step process to find out how to be unique and why you should never follow the crowd?
Exercise 1. Acknowledge Your Strengths
A great way to honour your uniqueness is to acknowledge your strengths. Its easy to put ourselves down; self-deprecating is often a cultural norm, but it’s not healthy.
Know your strengths.
This exercise is best done with a friend but can be done alone.
Each write down 5 things that you know you are good at. If you feel stuck ask your friends and family what they think you are good at.
Then taking turns state to your friend ‘I am a great cook’ and in reply your friend affirms this, ‘You are a great cook’. Saying this out loud deepens the impact. If you feel silly doing this exercise, laugh and that’s great for your health too.
So off you go …I am a good mother, I am a good listener, I make people smile, I am a great cook, I can repair anything….
Exercise 2. You Are A Sum Of Your Experiences
One very important source of your uniqueness is your experiences. Everything you have ever done is recorded in your conscious memory and your nervous system. Everything you’ve ever seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled is tucked away in your brain.
Write down 5 experiences that have most powerfully shaped your life and next to it how it affected you?
e.g. I have climbed Kilimanjaro and I proved to myself that I have the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and achieve a tough goal that I set myself. I feel more confident now in many areas of my life.
Exercise 3. You Become Who You Have Coffee With
I would like you to think about the 5 people you spend most of your time with, either face to face or on the phone.
Make a list.
Next to each name, make a note of how positive they are (for you) on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the most positive). Do they encourage you in your uniqueness, do they spur you on to follow your dreams?
You are affected far more than you think by the people you spend your time with.
Think for a moment….
Have you ever finished a phone call and felt totally dragged down and drained?
Have you left a friend feeling ten feet tall?
I encourage you to become more aware of who you hang out with.
Exercise 4. Reflection
Reflection is the key to assimilating all you are discovering about yourself.
Look back over your answers and highlight the ones that surprise you or the ones that you know you must act on now…or in the next 10 days.
You are in the midst of a great journey of discovery!
My Road Less Travelled
Leaping into the frontline as a humanitarian at 40 years old leaving behind safety and security many people said that I was crazy. Calls and emails would be filled with‘ Come on home now and settle down’, ‘It must be time to get back on the housing ladder?, ‘You don’t have a pension, what is your plan?’. I had to toughen up and suppress a wobble when I heard the concern people felt surrounding my new life on the frontline.
But I knew it was right for me to take ‘the road less travelled’. I had lived a comfortable life. But that unique part of me broke through my ordered life and my passion carried me through any fears of the unknown. I felt more alive than ever before on the frontline. I was able to combine many of my strengths and unique gifts. Putting myself in the middle of a catastrophic disaster I was able to make a real difference and use my strengths and skills to help others. I knew that this was what I was born to do. For me not knowing where my next meal or pay cheque was coming from and only having one suitcase of stuff was not scary but liberating.
This may all sound totally crazy to you too. But thats the thing…
We are all different.