Are you really willing to stand out from the crowd?

Sep 15, 2020

Have you ever thought to yourself, Now, these are my people?  Do you remember the warm and fuzzy feeling that came from being seen, understood, and connected?

Now think about what made you similar to those people and what made you different.  I’m willing to bet that even if your life experiences were very different, what connected you was remarkably similar. Am I right? For example, in the 10 years I’ve been a business coach for creative entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that nearly every single one of my clients has been primarily motivated to:

  • do work that has meaning and impact
  • have the freedom to choose their clients and projects
  • be paid based upon their value, not the hours they work

Can you relate? I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this, you can! And achieving those things is entirely possible (I’ve been honored to witness it countless times). But there’s a teeny, tiny catch — you’re going to have to let go of fitting in and fully embrace…what makes you different and stand out from the crowd.

Sounds great on the surface, right? I mean, who doesn’t want a business and personal brand that stands out in the marketplace?

But standing out goes way deeper than a killer brand presence and Instagram feed. What standing out really means is a willingness to leave the safety of the herd, speak your truth, and chart your unique path. And that comes at a price. When you stand out, you open yourself up to criticism, judgement, even rejection.

And that’s hard.

When you’re willing to unapologetically stand out, you’ll be in the zone of your purpose, power, and impact, the rewards of which are beyond any that come from blending in. If my experience, as well as those of the countless creative business owners and freelancers I’ve coached, is anything to go by, you’ll get to:

  • find, connect with, and work with your ideal clients
  • find your community
  • set firm yet loving boundaries
  • hold yourself to a higher standard
  • become a part of something bigger than yourself
  • become accountable to yourself and others
  • stop caring what other people think

The people you’re here to serve will LOVE you for it. And the ones you’re not meant for may not. In fact, they may feel threatened, try to make you smaller, even reject you. It’ll hurt, but it’ll be OK. Because they’re not going where you’re going.

If 2020 has you reconsidering a few things and you’re ready to build the business for where you’re going, not where you are, here are three ways to get started:

1) Go future tripping

I’m not normally a proponent of living in the future, because that usually means we’re in the grip of the ego, instead of tapping into our intuition and creativity (which always live in the present). That said, I love this exercise from Debbie Millman, who I believe borrowed it from Milton Glaser, in which you write a day in your life five years from today.

Grab a notebook and pen (not computer) and write down the perfect day five years from now. Start with where you wake up and go from there.

A few things you might consider:

  • What are your surroundings like? Describe them.
  • How do you feel in your body and mind?
  • How do you start your day? Who’s with you?
  • What does the day ahead look like? What do you have planned?
  • How are you dressed?
  • Who are your clients?
  • How are you working with them?
  • Who’s on your team?
  • What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
  • How financially free are you? What does that look and feel like?
  • How do you spend that money?
  • What do your positioning, messaging, and brand look like?
  • Who are your friends? Who’s in your community?
  • Who’s supporting you at home?

2) Use your mind for good instead of evil

Ever feel like you get stuck in unproductive, negative thoughts cycles? Join the club!  Spiritual teacher, author, and BFF of Oprah Eckart Tolle says:

“I would say about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful.”

At least you know you’re in good company!

But if you’re going to build a stand-out business, you’ll need to free up some of that headspace for more inspired, creative thinking. So, how do you make the shift to inspired action? Well, the first thing to remember is you only need to identify the next step, not a path to a final destination. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, I have noticed we all process information and identify next steps in a way that’s consistent with our unique wiring. For me, it’s writing. For my husband, it’s playing the piano and meditating.

If you’re not sure what your portal from useless mind chatter to creativity and inspired action are, here are a few that other creatives have shared with me:

  • Journaling (free form or using prompts)
  • Reading spiritual/personal development books and making notes
  • Drawing/painting
  • Dancing/yoga/physical movement
  • Playing an instrument/singing/being in a choir
  • Meditation
  • Baking

3) Identify what lights a fire in you

This is where the rubber meets the road, and it's why the initial stages of my coaching process always involves a deep dive into what moves you, motivates you, and lights you up. Why? Because where there is meaning there is motivation and sustained action.

Are you ready? This is going to change your game!

Here are a few questions to kick off your own inquiry. I recommend journaling your answers:

  • What gets you excited?
  • What makes you mad?
  • What injustice did you see or experience as a child?
  • What injustice do you see now?
  • What do you wish someone had told/shown you when you were a kid?
  • What myth would you love to dispel?
  • What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
  • When were you most proud of yourself? What did you do?
  • When were you most disappointed in yourself? What would you have done differently?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Don’t feel you have to be limited by these questions. Feel free to add/edit/completely make up your own.

What came up for you? What trends of thought do you need to go deeper on?

Keep going, this is the work. Because when you become passionate about communicating what you know from your own personal experience and battle scars, you connect with the people who want and need to work with you.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Justine Clay

Justine Clay is a speaker and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Sign up for her free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth, above.