As I write this post, I’m sitting at my desk in my Brooklyn apartment, watching the birds on my fire escape enjoy their daily morning treats from my bird feeder. Most look exactly alike. They are tiny and cute, with tan feathers and small beaks. They don’t make a lot of noise, they hang out in groups, and when they take off in flight, they’re a unit.
But there’s one bird that always swoops in alone. It has gorgeous teal feathers, sings loudly, and does its own thing.
And I am mesmerized by it.
In fact, I am pretty much mesmerized by anyone doing her own thing. Think about it: Isn’t there something incredibly captivating about watching those who march to the beat of their own drum?
To be honest, I think most of us want to be the teal bird. We want to blaze our own trail. But there’s also an inherent desire in all of us to fit in. Like the sparrows, we want to chat, eat, and pal around with friends. There’s an innate desire to be part of a tribe. It makes us feel supported, validated, warm-and-fuzzy.
And having a tribe can be essential. It’s a huge part of being successful. Look at the sparrows—the right tribe can literally encourage you to fly. But there’s equal value in knowing how and when to stand out and do something on your own. This is especially true in your career. In fact, blending in when it comes to your work can be your worst enemy.
Let’s take a look at some powerful and unique women who have captured our attention for decades: Madonna, Anna Wintour, Grace Jones, Betsy Johnson, and Coco Chanel, to name a few. All of these women didn’t just embrace their eccentricities, they capitalized on them. They weren’t afraid of what made them weird. They celebrated it. They crossed lines and set fire to stigmas. They pushed envelopes and did it their way. And we love them for it.
Can you imagine how different the world would be if these women hid their essential selves from the world? Can you imagine if they had dimmed their light for the sake of making others comfortable?
I invite you to start thinking about what makes you different. Are you an accountant who also moonlights as a jazz singer? A teacher who secretly wants to become a tattoo artist? I can guarantee there are things about you you’ve been hiding that actually make you super authentic and super attractive to potential clients or employers.
In order to be truly happy, and truly successful, you’ve got to proudly rock what makes you special.
Although I’ve been an author, speaker, and life coach for the past nine years, I’ve noticed a huge expansion in my business in the past two years. And I know there is a direct correlation between that success and the decision to share more of myself with my clients. Whether it’s my George Michael obsession, or the fact that I write both poetry and personal development, or that I talk to those birds on my fire escape—and they make me so unbelievably happy—I proudly blend all of my passions and quirks into one package, and it works. I don’t worry about what “fits” or what others will respond to. I just present myself as, well, myself!
I challenge you to think about your own unique desires, oddities or interests this week. What makes you the happiest? Who are you when you own those parts of yourself? How can you celebrate your weirdness?
I think you will be pleasantly surprised (and relieved) when you decide to stop hiding and start shining.