Updated: Jul 29, 2021
If you are a fan of movies, you have probably seen J. Edgar, a 2011 movie where Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of J. Edgar Hoover, a powerful leader of the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover was primarily responsible for building the first national database of fingerprints, which turned out to be a major breakthrough in crime detection at the time.
While I do not agree with some of J. Edgar’s techniques and tactics, I think it’s fascinating to know that the success of the fingerprint database was premised on one major fact: no two people have the same fingerprint.
To further buttress this fact, the National Forensic Science Technology Center states that,
No two people have ever been found to have the same fingerprints - including identical twins
So, no matter how much you may doubt your uniqueness, the very fact that no one else in the whole world – past, present, or future – has the same fingerprint as you should be enough to make you begin to wonder about what else might be unique about you.
At this point, you are most likely thinking: “It will take more than a unique fingerprint to accelerate my career”. You are absolutely right! Please follow me for a little longer.
First, let’s clarify, what does it mean to be ‘unique’? OECD describes unique as a word “used to characterize the situation where an individual can be distinguished from all other members in a population….” The profound thing about this definition is that uniqueness is solely based on the ‘observer’ being able to distinguish an individual from all others in the population.
Bringing this to career, we see that the question is not ‘am I unique?”. The real question is ‘how do I help the observer distinguish me from all other members of the population?’
Yes, you have a role to play in helping a key decision-maker in your career such as a hiring manager or line manager distinguish you from other members of the population. Population, in a career context, refers to other candidates applying for the same job or other team members aspiring for the same promotion.
This is not asking you to pretend and become a different person just so that you can ‘stand out from the crowd’. Far from it!
Rather, this is an invitation for you to deeply reflect on your unique blend of personality and experience to identify things about you that will help the key decision-maker distinguish you from the population. Then using effective communication skills to tell your story in a way that leaves a lasting impact.
Learning to reflect and replay with powerful storytelling helps to display your unique value proposition and in turn, accelerate your career. If you would like to learn how to do this in an effective yet authentic way, then I invite you to try out the Accelerate Your Career Course.
In this course, I talk about a simple yet powerful way to help you build and demonstrate your unique value proposition using what I call the 3 Cs – Competence, Character, and Connection. I’m sure you’re keen to know what these mean. Let’s dive in!
Refers to what you can do. It’s the blend of technical and soft skills that enable you to effectively deliver on a job or task. Every organization is set up to deliver value to its stakeholders, so organizations are looking for people that can increase the value they give to their stakeholders.
Refers to who you are. As John Maxwell says:
People won't go along with you unless they can get along with you
Every organization is made of different types of people and your character is what makes it possible for you to work with other people and for them to work with you.
Refers to the ability to effectively communicate who you are (Character) and what you can do (Competence) through powerful storytelling. People will build connections with you based on who you are and/or what you do. Storytelling is a good way to help people know more about who you are and what you can do.
Combining these 3 Cs will help you demonstrate your unique value proposition and use this to accelerate your career. To dig deeper into these