We all have things that are different about us, that make us stand out in the crowd. Too often, people think they have to hide these quirks to fit in, get the promotion, or land the contract. But often it’s our odd personalities, passions, and idiosyncrasies that give us the edge we need to succeed.
Steve Jobs didn’t succeed at Apple because he was like everyone else. In fact, all you have to do is skim his biography to discover that his quirks ranged far deeper than a limited wardrobe of turtlenecks and jeans, but those qualities are what made him so successful.
Sameness removes surprise and takes away everything that makes you distinctive, but uniqueness is what companies look for when going through resumes and it’s what you can use to enhance your career. There’s a reason why a recent McKinsey report reveals that diversity in the workplace correlates with both profitability and value creation.
The key is to make sure that you stand out in a way that works for you, covers your weaknesses, and enhances your reputation in a positive way.
Ways to Turn Quirks into Your Competetive Advantage
Define Your Core Strengths
The first step to accepting your quirks and turning them to your advantage is to figure out what they are and how they relate to your core strengths. We each have core skills, talents, and character traits that define who we are and what we offer. It’s by understanding these core strengths that we can better turn them to our advantage and the advantage of our jobs.
First, go online and take a Briggs Meyers test or the Enneagram test to better define your personality type as well as the talents and abilities that make up the core of who you are. This is a great first step toward self-understanding, which can help you figure out where you’re strongest. It’s your strengths that you want to focus on the most because it’s these skills that will help you gain fulfillment and make forward progress professionally and personally.
Just make sure that as you’re defining your strengths that you’re not comparing yourself to anyone else. Every person is different and has different strengths, but those who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report an excellent quality of life.
For example, both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had a lasting impact on computer technology, offering similar products, but they are very different individuals. Gates strengths lay in software engineering whereas Jobs was considered an unmatched design thinker. At the same time, Elon Musk is known for his technical skills while Richard Branson is known for his interpersonal skills.
What’s the common thread between each of these successful entrepreneurs? They all focused on using their strengths to reach the top and didn’t try to be anything but who they were. That’s how they achieved success.
Partner With Other People’s Strengths
Inevitably, once you start discussing your strengths, you’ll discover that you have some glaring weaknesses. However, overcoming these weaknesses isn’t where you should concentrate all your time and attention—that will only bring you misery and self-doubt. And, in all honesty, it won’t help make all your weaknesses disappear.
Instead, you should focus on eliminating your weaknesses by partnering with other people. There’s a reason why strengths-based performance management works well.
Albert Einstein might have been a genius that transformed our world, but even he had weaknesses and relied on his wife to help figure out some of his most famous equations. And Steve Jobs had the help of Steve Wozniak to form Apple Computer because Jobs recognized he was the visionary while Wozniak offered the practical solutions.
The good news is that you don’t work in isolation, so you don’t have to think of yourself in isolation. You can create lasting relationships with individuals personally and professionally who cover your weaknesses. There is someone for every task. If you can’t do it, someone else out there can do it.
Find a mentor who can help train you in your weaknesses or who can partner with you on projects with a complimentary set of skills. If you know that you’re exceptional at the quantitative portions of your job but struggle with coming up with creative solutions, build a team around you that can boost your creativity. Working together is always better than working alone.
Also read: Soft Skills – Hiring Managers Say Are Key Differentiator: Are You Prepared? | Advancing on the Job Series
Focus on Soft Skills
If you want an edge in the workplace, focus on your soft skills. According to PwC’s 20th CEO survey, 77% of executives believe that underdeveloped soft skills are the biggest threat to today’s business. This means that by focusing on improving and sharing your soft skills you can stand out from the crowd in a positive way. 78% of CEOs agree that they need to change their company’s strategy to improve soft skills, so you can get ahead of the game shifting your own focus.
Soft skills refer to such things as problem solving, leadership, creativity, and adaptability—four skills that CEOs admit are hard to find. If you can model these behaviors and be proactive about grounding yourself in these skills, you’ll have a better chance of standing out as a leader in your company.