Whether your goal is to get a promotion at work, land your dream job at the company you’ve been stalking for months, or finally take the leap to launch your side hustle, making sure you stand out from the other people doing the same thing you’re doing is a huge part of your success.
Think about it: How can you convince anyone you’re the most qualified or the best choice if you aren’t able to differentiate yourself from everyone else? It’s pretty clear – figuring out how to separate yourself from the competition is a key part in achieving success in your career.
But standing out in a sea of people doing things similar to you can be a challenge. You’ve probably got a million questions swirling around your brain.
What makes me special?
How is what I’m doing different from everyone else?
Why is what I have to say or do worth anyone’s time?
Am I good enough to stand out from the crowd?
Although these questions represent the way many of us think – especially when it comes to the work we do – the good news is that it’s much easier to differentiate yourself than you think. It’s just a matter of changing your approach.
"Instead of focusing on what your competition is up to or how your competition is doing, your goal should be to figure out how to best develop your own skills."
Here are three things you’ve got to start doing right now in order to stand out from the crowd at work.
1. Quit comparing yourself to other people
This is the most crucial part of the entire process. If you’re consistently comparing what you do to what everyone else does, you’ve already put yourself at a disadvantage. The saying goes “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and while that’s true, I’d take it a step further and say it’s also the thief of success. When you take your eyes off of your goal to worry about what someone else is doing, you’ve taken time away from doing things that will help you move forward in your own career.
Instead, your goal should be to get laser-focused on what you bring to the table and how you can improve your own skill set. The most successful people will tell you that when it comes to getting to the top, you simply can’t worry about what anyone else is up to. Wasting valuable time focused on other people will actually put you further behind them – which is the opposite of what you want.
2. Create your signature style
Signature style is the unique way you approach your work and encompasses the way you think, the way you relate to others and the way you express yourself. Basically, it's getting crystal clear on what your strengths are and how to use them in a deliberate way. Developing your signature style forces you to tap into who you are as it relates to your work and brings you much closer to bringing your authentic self to the office.
Those who are successful in their careers have developed and mastered their signature style and instead of shying away from the things that make them different, they’ve embraced and even highlighted them.
For example, someone who's tapped into their signature style is not afraid to offer a differing opinion to the group or to share their personal views on a topic. Studies show that those who can truly be themselves at work are more engaged and are more successful in their career overall.
3. Become an expert
Although you may be tempted to brand yourself as a “jack of all trades” and spread your knowledge base across many different areas at work, it’s much easier to stand out from the crowd if you become the “go to” expert on a specific topic.
And while most people tend to shy away from calling themselves an expert for fear of not having enough knowledge or experience, the truth is that being an expert doesn’t mean you need to have your Ph.D. on a certain topic or spend 10 years working in a specific field. What it does mean though, is that you’ve dedicated time and energy to learn more about your work than other people have.
Think about it: If you spend just one hour researching one topic, you’ll already know more about it than 50% of people. Now imagine if you spend 60 minutes every single day researching that same topic. That’s right, you’re now an expert.
"The bottom line is this: The key to standing out from those you view as competition at work is to shift your attention from them to you."
Instead of focusing on what your competition is up to or how your competition is doing, your goal should be to figure out how to best develop your own skills in a way that plays to your strengths and highlights what makes you, you.
Take a moment to think about the most successful person you know. Nine times out of 10, this same person isn’t thinking about you right now. Instead, this person is spending their time thinking about what steps need to be taken in order to take his/her career to the next level and I challenge you to start thinking the same thing.