I heard this quote the other night at a leadership event I was attending. For some reason I immediately grabbed a pen and quickly wrote it down. I can’t tell you what was said before it or for some time after because I was too enthralled by the thoughts this quote triggered. I started to scribble them down as the quote flowed over me. Following are my reflections from that process.
What is it that differentiates ourselves from others? If it is true that there is nothing new under the sun then how do we package ourselves and what we offer to set us apart, different from the rest of the crowd? It is about creation – creating something new from the old.
It is a competitive world and I don’t care what industry or business you are in, what product or service you offer, there are others around you doing something similar. It is how you take that similar product or service and make it unique so that you stand out from the crowd. It’s this act of creation that will provide you with the special edge, the difference you need to stand out and be seen. What does that look like? I have no idea what it might look like for you. It will happen as it happens and you will know when it does.
“Success comes from taking ideas, concepts, often from other sources, and putting our own spin on it, packaging it to be unique.“
Fill a glass jar with water and then add some sand. Shake the jar, set it down, and watch the sand slowly settle to the bottom. That’s what happens as you start a new venture. Your concepts and ideas will be shaken up and down; you might find that you add new ideas and older ones fall away. Eventually things will settle out and a clearer direction will emerge. I say “clearer” and not “clear” because it will constantly be in flux. Change is inevitable — we know “the only constant in life is change.” You need to be prepared for the new opportunities that will present themselves, and to decide whether adjusting your course makes sense or not.
If I have learned anything over the last nine months since I started my own practice, it is never to assume anything, and be open to everything. You may start out with a clear plan for your business or service. The reality is that you may end up doing something completely different — the sand needs to settle. As you start developing your business and “selling” what you do, perhaps even providing the services and delivering the products, you will start to get feedback. Listen to those responses and be open to adjusting your course of action. Be ready to change your approach if you get a sense that your original one isn’t getting the results you need. Remember that quote, attributed erroneously to Einstein — that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result — and be ready to change.
There is no competition, only creation. This means focusing on what you can do (create) to make a difference, to stand out, to set yourself apart. Don’t focus on competing with others, instead focus on differentiating yourself: what makes who you are, and what you do, unique.
This really is a different sort of creation story.