Stand Out More Than Anyone Else
You’re competing against so many people for the same opportunities. You have to be in the best possible shape you can be in, intellectually and competitively, to be able to win. There are two ways to do that.
1. fit in more than anyone else (which is almost impossible)
2. stand out more than anyone else
[from a conversation between Debbie Millman & Seth Godin on “Design Matters”]
How do you stand out more than anyone else?
By showing up consistently. By sharing your core truths. By reveling your weirdness. By being vulnerable. By paying attention to the world around you and responding with generosity.
Show up consistently.
Be professional and do the work. Write every day. Practise every day. Train every day. Film every day. Do your core work – every day.
“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around like rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”
– Anne Morris
Share (ship) your work regularly and on schedule. Publish. Gig. Compete. Release. Decide your own schedule and then keep to it. Put it out into the world in a way that is discoverable.
Don’t rely on others to give you permission to ship. Do your own thing consistently enough and your body of work and your audience will grow to the point that you are undeniable. At that point the gatekeepers come to YOU.
Book or produce your own shows. Publish your own writing. Record your music. Build your audience and reputation one person, one day at a time.
It seems slow, but writing for an hour 365 days a year is the equivalent of putting in a little more than nine full 40 hour weeks. That’s a significant amount of time, and time enough to do something significant.
Share your core values.
What do you believe in? What matters to you? What is at your essence?
This is important because we respond strongly to “people like us”. We go out of our way to support people that believe what we believe in and we want to help them win. We see this played out in the social action (marches, petitions) we support , in the Kickstarter campaigns we fund, the people we vote for (from the Parents & Friends Association to national politics) and in the content we like and share on social media.
You can do this alongside your art – by writing and speaking out about the values and causes that you are most passionate about. You can publicly stand for these values by lending your voice to campaigns, standing alongside candidates you support, sharing stories of why you believe the things you do.
It’s worth asking yourself “How can I share my core values within my art?” Not every song should be a protest song. Not every scene of your screenplay needs to be a diatribe against racism. But allowing your core values to inform your work will give it deeper resonance and help shape who you are as an artist.
Revel in your weirdness.
Your quirks, kinks, idiosyncrasies and ‘weird bits’ are what make you unique.
Celebrate those things you love and enjoy that may not be commercial or mainstream, whether it be your taste or take on fashion, music, literature, politics or sexuality.
It might mean that you don’t appeal to everybody for every occasion, but learning to be okay with that is a good lesson. Something that appeals to the average person is…average. By virtue of the fact that you’ve read this far, I get the sense that you’re looking to be more than average.
Think about the people, the artists, the politicians and the businesses you look up to. What unique factor(s) do they have that you appreciate?
Shipping – putting your work into the world is definitely a way of being vulnerable. By offering your experiences and sharing your truth with others is being vulnerable.
Putting yourself and your work into the world requires courage. The thing worth remembering here is that as Debbie Millman says – the act of repeatedly being courageous build confidence.
Sharing this post with you is an act of vulnerability for me. “I made this for you. I hope you like it. But if it’s not for you…that’s okay.”
Pay attention to the world around you.
Take a moment to stop and just be. Listen to the world around you. Take the time to look and really see.
Ask yourself What does the world need from me today? How am I uniquely qualified to help? Can I solve a problem in a way no-one else can? Can I articulate a message? Can I provide solace, encouragement or salve with my words and my art?
Share your gifts in a way that feeds a cycle of generosity rather than holding back and waiting until the right time or everything is perfect.
How do you choose to stand out more than anyone else? I’d love you to share your thoughts by sending me a note here.