Coming in terms with your uniqueness

Humans are social creatures. We thrive in communities, in groups of people, in our families. We benefit from feeling a sense of belonging in those groups and in order to achieve that we try to fit in as best we can. Here lies internal conflict though. How many concessions do you do in order to fit in? How much of your unique self do you give away?

This question is one that I’ve struggled a lot during my career and my life. Recently Jeff Bezos tweeted something interesting around that. His quote was

Listen and be open, but don’t let anybody tell you who you are.

This quote is in the context of the early days of Amazon and how they were going to fail (based on the opinion of analysts). Amazon was, and is in many ways, an outlier in the way of doing business. It is natural for people to be surprised and in certain ways to become dismissive. I’ve been dismissive in the past with Amazon for certain business practices. But the reality is that Amazon thrives because of not letting anyone tell them who they are. Because while they take feedback they don’t let their fundamental beliefs to change.

To come in terms with your uniqueness then you need to identify your fundamental beliefs. Identify these things that make you unique. Your principles. Once you do, and it’s not easy, then follow them with unyielding conviction.

How does it means to follow them with unyielding conviction? It means that sometimes you will choose to lose something that you value a lot. Be it a job, a friendship, an item, a lifestyle choice. But losing a battle sometimes allows you to win a war. Taking a step back can allow you to jump further forward. More importantly though following through with your principles means that you know what parts of your character to question, and try to change, and which to accept as they are and ignore the criticism you might get. Yes, sometimes other people can be wrong.

As the years go by I become better dealing with criticism. I feel safer with myself and my unique aspects. I can better identify my weaknesses and I value feedback. It’s a slow and painful process. It’s a process where you need to fight your ego and accept yourself for what it is. All that internal maze with its nook and crannies. There will be lost battles, but the fight isn’t over. It never is.