Why is this question so hard to answer?
Before I start working with clients I may ask them to consider some questions. These questions are designed to get them thinking more deeply about themselves and their lives. Some are relatively straightforward and quick to answer and others make them pause before a response is forthcoming.
Interestingly, one question regularly comes back with an “I don’t know” or “Nothing” kind of answer and it’s this.
“What do you contribute that is unique?”
So, how about you? How do you react to this question?
Do you flinch or find it too “coachy”? Do words and phrases come to mind which you immediately discard?
Unique adjective : being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
It’s a big word. It’s an absolute. It’s all or nothing. You are or you aren’t.
Well, actually, you are. You just are. YOU ARE UNIQUE.
You are the only YOU in the world. No one has the same unique combination of DNA, upbringing, experiences, tastes, thoughts, learning, emotions and…and…and..
Even identical twins, who share so much including their fingerprints and DNA, are separate, unique individuals with distinct personalities and views. Similar? Probably. Unique? Absolutely.
So what’s the struggle with applying this word to ourselves?
It seems that when asked to identify something unique about ourselves our minds get busy. Great thoughts and words may shoot in but are quickly cast out or brutally edited by our own judgment and comparison. “That’s not unique, everyone does that.” “There are so many people who do that way better than me.” “I couldn’t say that, I’d sound like an idiot!”
I get it, I do. We’re not used to putting ourselves out there. We’re pretty well conditioned to play ourselves down, to self-deprecate. We imagine others’ negative reactions and self-censor accordingly.
Being asked to recognise and acknowledge that we are unique makes us feel vulnerable.
But “unique” is not judging or comparing. You can’t be more (or less) unique than someone else. Getting comfortable with being unique doesn’t make anyone else less important, less special or less anything.
Identify yourself as unique is about recognising what makes you YOU. It’s about owning who YOU are now. Not perfect, not the best, not the most, just you.
And once you’ve done that, it’s knowing that you are enough…but that’s a whole different story!
So please take a moment and consider the question again and notice the words and phrases to come. And if you’re still finding it hard to answer, get in touch.