Stand up and stand out

In a shrinking world with endless options, we fade into invisibility. There are multiple reasons for our camouflage.

First, to blend in or become well rounded (colleges like to promote this one) we become just like everyone else who has a degree.

Second, fear has made us invisible. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Both prevent individuals from standing out in a crowd.

Every time I drive to my father-in-law’s house, I am reminded of the importance of standing out in positive ways. He lives on a busy residential road, cars racing past the 35-mph speed limit sign. Several years ago, he painted his mailbox in a zebra scheme because his visitors kept driving past his home.

Seeing the turnoff at the last minute, the guests would slam on the breaks, often igniting road rage in the tailgaters behind them. And this was during broad daylight. Imagine the scene at night. Can you blame the visitors for not finding the house? The mailboxes all look the same, like shells along the beach, rather than identifying landmarks.

Tired of blending in, my father-in-law became visible. Now, no visitors ever miss the turn. What has happened since is the great part. His neighbors now use his mailbox as a point of reference to find their houses. Rodger has become the beacon for his neighborhood.

Too many people and organizations are trying hard to attract new customers, be discovered, get hired, or make a bigger impact, but overwhelming amounts of spam (human and electronic) and other interruptions bury their efforts, so we simply ignore it all. Traditional advertising doesn’t work as well. An 8 1/2 x 11 resume listing your qualifications doesn’t work anymore, either. It all blends into the camouflage that surrounds us.

What are you doing to make yourself prominent? Do you challenge mediocrity and the status quo? What makes the world notice you in a positive way?

I’ll leave you with this thought from my friend Chris at Lessons from the Cockpit:

Unless you thrive on anonymity, we must take the reins of our own destinies by standing up and standing out, ensuring our faces are seen and our voices heard.

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