Choosing to differentiate yourself allows you to stand out from the crowd, but not everyone has the same ability to take that leap. You need to make the most of the time you have and live life to the fullest, even if that means not fitting in. On this week's episode of Ignition Point, we are talking about why - sometimes - you need to act decisively and go against the grain to provide unique value for your customers, your workplace, and your relationships.
Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it may help. We designed this weekly podcast for ambitious Young Professionals and aspiring Leaders who want to stay motivated and keep moving forward. Throughout Season 1, we will be connecting fresh perspectives with practical strategies to help listeners feel empowered all week long. You can help us improve by joining our LinkedIn and Twitter Community by using #IgnitionPoint, submitting a review on Apple Podcasts, or emailing feedback to [email protected].
Welcome to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to help you take the leap, conquer your week, and achieve your goals. If you’re looking to amplify your mindset with a fresh perspective and spark your momentum – you’re in the right place.
Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller. Thanks for joining me for another Ignition Point – the show where we cover an influential speech or feature a Guest Keynote that’ll get you fired up and ready to take on another winning week.
Every episode through the first half of this season, I’ve covered the perspectives of athletes, entrepreneurs, members of our armed forces, anthropologists, and even sportscasters. All for the purpose of helping you to stay motivated and so you can keep moving forward.
It’s been an amazing experience across the board, but what makes it all the more worth it is hearing your stories. These stories of how Ignition Point has helped you have made releasing this show even more meaningful week after week.
That’s why I am so excited to tell you that the number of guests I’m welcoming in the next twelve episodes is going up. While we’ve had two amazing guests join us so far, we have eight more coming your way. You won’t want to miss out, so please be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts and reach out to me directly by emailing [email protected] to get notified via email whenever a new episode comes out.
As I’m sure you know, Ignition Point exists in a podcast category that is loaded with voices, but it’s found a place because it’s a little bit different. When I launched the show, I could’ve just said, “let’s just find some people to interview and figure it out as we go,” but it wouldn’t have provided any distinct value. If you take the same path as everyone else, you won’t achieve the same success that they achieved. Typically, you’ll experience a watered-down version of success called mediocrity.
Being just a little bit different can go a long way in life, especially if that degree of variation provides more value than others in your space. Keeping with that idea, I’m covering a speech in today’s monologue that explains why individuality and embracing contradiction can help you to live life to the fullest.
Let’s get after it!
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE
You are going to die.
This is a great place to begin because I figure it can only go up from here. It can only get better, so this is good. It can’t possibly get more depressing.
Don’t get me wrong, you look great. Really, you’ve just gotten onto the ski slope. You’re at the peak of growth and potential, but now comes the black diamond run to the grave. The weird thing is that – on a cellular level – your body wants to die, even though that’s probably not what you want.
You present yourself with a great deal of ambition, but your body wants to make some babies and then go in the ground to fertilize things. That’s it. And it doesn’t seem very fair, does it? It seems like a real contradiction.
For one thing, I’m here telling you, “Go out into the world and do something remarkable!” While your body is saying, “Hey, hey, take it easy. Let’s just take it down a notch.” That’s the contradiction between your body and your mind.
I believe contradictions and tensions are the greatest gifts you have, and hopefully I can explain that.
Let’s just say, hypothetically, that two roads diverged in a wood and you took the road less traveled. Part of you is just going, “Look at that path over there! It’s so much better. Everyone is traveling on it. It’s paved, and there’s a Starbucks like every 40 yards. This other path is clearly wrong. On this one, there’s potholes and Robert Frost’s decaying body. Somebody probably should have moved that. That’s really odd.”
Your mind behaves like it’s on the lesser of the two paths and tells you to look at the other one that you could be on. That will continue. What you do with all your heart, you’ll want to do the opposite of. And you need to honor that, understand it, and unearth it. Listen to this other voice.
You have a rare ability and a responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself. Give it the floor, because it is the key—not only to consciousness, but to real growth.
To accept duality is to earn identity. Identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in. It’s not just repeating the thoughts of your parents or mentors. It’s about understanding yourself so you can become yourself.
There are two things to say about this contradiction and tension. One – even if you achieve something, solve something, or if you think a career or a relationship will quiet that voice, it will not. If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from accepting the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better.
The other reason is because you are establishing your identity and your beliefs. You need to argue yourself down because somebody else will. Somebody is going to come at you, and whatever your belief, your idea, your ambition, somebody is going to question it. If you don’t debate yourself, you won’t be able to hold your ground in response. You need to see both sides.
Now, if you do see both sides, does this mean that you get to change the world? Well, I’m getting to that, so just chill. I think we can all agree the world could use a little changing. I don’t know if your parents have explained this to you, but it’s a bit of a mess. They kind of broke it.
We live in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given way to shouting and bullying. The best thing in this world is not just the idea of honest debate; the best thing is losing the debate, because it means that you get to learn something, and you have the opportunity to change your position. The only way really to understand your position and its worth, is to understand the opposite. You can’t get away from it.
This connection is part of contradiction. It’s the tension I was talking about. This tension isn’t about two opposite points, it’s about the line in between them. We need to acknowledge and honor that tension, and the connection that that tension is a part of. Our connection not just to the people we love, but to everybody, including people we can’t stand, and wish weren’t around. The connection we have is part of what defines us on such a basic level.
Freedom is not freedom from connection. Serial killing is freedom from connection. Certain large investment firms have freedom from connection. But we as people are never free from connection, and we’re not supposed to be, and we shouldn’t want to be.
So, here’s the thing about changing the world. It turns out that it’s not even a question, because you don’t have a choice. You are going to change the world, because that is what the world is. You don’t pass through this life; it passes through you. You experience it, interpret it, take action, and then it’s different. That happens constantly. You are changing the world. You always have been, and now, it becomes real on a level that it hasn’t been before, because you’re aware of it.
And that’s why I’ve been talking only about you and the tension within you, because you are—not in a clichéd sense, but in a weirdly literal sense—the future. You will be so many things, but don’t just be yourself. Don’t just live. Be life. Understand it, appreciate it, and have fun with it. Summon the hero within you and live the fullest life you can imagine.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
If I had to guesstimate, I’d say one in five speakers point at death as a reason to live. They’ll say something like, “This could be the last day you have.” Or they may make it personal, and say, “this could be the last speech I ever make.” And that’s pretty unnerving, right? Whether you find it motivating or uncomfortable, that speaker has achieved their goal: they’ve captured your attention by going against the grain. They contradict your expectations or provide a perspective so valuable that it alters the way you perceive and spend your time.
Look – I’m not going to beat around the bush, I know it sucks. I’m the type of person that focuses on what’s within my control, but this type of perspective is important to challenging our motivations. It serves as a dose of realism that forces you to acknowledge that you’re always going to be up against the clock. There will be situations where you’ll know when your time is up – like when your going to graduate from High School or College – but you’ll also face situations where you won’t know the amount of time left on the clock. Either way, you need to make the most of the time you have.
Whether personal or professional – mortality shadows everything you do because it constantly pressures you to answer the question, “why?” Why do you do what you do? Why do you believe what you believe? Why do you say what you say?
The speaker I’ve covered today says to answer any of these questions, requires you to see both sides of every coin. If you want to have a strong sense of identity, you need to start seeing the conversations you have as collaborative efforts. Meaningful conversations are not competitions for the purpose of socially flexing on somebody; they’re about seeing all the sides of a topic to help you determine your stance. You have to be open to having these uncomfortable conversations. Be willing to be wrong and keep learning. It’s the only way you can really get comfortable representing what you stand for.
Frequently, I’m asked to be a sounding board for people who want to know if the grass is really greener on the other side. They’ll ask something to the effect of, “should I stay where I work, or should I take this job offer I got? Should I risk changing what I do to elevate my results even though I’m getting consistent results right now?” You need to challenge your thoughts before you convince yourself that you know the best way forward. If you think you’re at a dead end, don’t be so quick to think that change is the only way to improve your conditions.
Think of yourself as a sentient seed planted in a fresh pot of soil. You’re not so far buried that you can’t see the surface. From where you’re situated, life presents you with two options. You can stay in your current nutrient-rich soil and receive a little water from time to time, or you can come up out of the earth and move to a planter that you know receives two times as much water, but the quality of the soil you’d be moving into would remain unknown until you arrived.
That planter may look remarkable, and it may pour into you at an amazing rate, but is its soil a rich enough environment for you to grow? While where you are may seem dark at times, it still presents an opportunity for you to bloom where you’re planted.
This is influenced by the time you have, but these types of choices require calculation and collaboration. You will only be able to act decisively if you’ve done your due diligence to see the possible outcomes. Every choice will carry risk, but it’s my personal belief that taking calculated risks while you’re young is the right move. It can pay off in big ways, but if it doesn’t, you’ll have time on your side to recover. You won’t have that same type of freedom as time ticks on.
Now, wherever you choose to grow, you should find ways to be decidedly different. When you know who you are, you’re able to differentiate yourself to stand out. Try thinking of connection how it is described in the monologue. Connection is a line between two points. You need to find a way to provide real value for the person you are connected with so they see your shared line as unique amongst all their other connecting lines.
One of the greatest differentiators that can set you apart is choosing to really show up every day, focused on being genuinely helpful and demonstrating as much enthusiasm for the success of others as you show for your own success. In concept, it’s a really intentional definition of providing exceptional customer service, but in practice it’s how you make lasting relationships and build a community by making everyone feel that you are there to give them the best version of yourself. This should be familiar to you if you listened to Mari Tautimes and I discuss creating next level relationships.
When you pour yourself into other people, you stand apart from those who are just getting by, meeting the base requirements. Differentiating your ability to serve others is just one of the countless ways you can provide greater value to your organization, your network or your customers, but doing so secures your role and gives you the ability to rise to the top.
Dare to defy what is normal, standard, and expected. You have what it takes. Start standing apart from the crowd by building a strong identity, engage in more collaborative conversations that examine both sides of every coin you toss, consider that you can bloom where you’re planted, and figure out a unique way to add value to each of your connections.
In this life, your actions make echoes. Make the most of your time by taking decisive action and listening for the echo instead listening for the ticking of your clock.
Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it would help. Your feedback helps Ignition Point to keep moving forward, so send me an email to [email protected] or write a review for the show on Apple Podcasts to let me know what you think.
We hold out until the end of each show to share who inspired each week’s Ignition Point for two reasons. To keep you curious and remind you to focus on the motivation. This week’s Ignition Point was adapted from Joss Whedon’s 2013 Commencement Address at Wesleyan University.
Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, and how you leave others feeling becomes your trademark. So, stay motivated and keep moving forward. If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
I’ll be looking forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
Now get on out there and win the week!