Now, more than ever, people out in the big wide world are becoming just another face in a sea of the masses. Trying to dig themselves out of debt, support themselves and their families, climbing up the ladder as best they can, competing against others for that promotion or new post that has opened up.
49% of people in the UK have had some form of higher education (according to the guardian) and with the digital age of apps and international collaborations making it easier to interact, we find ourselves in a muddled ocean of skills and qualifications appearing.
So what gives you the edge against everyone else? We all have an edge. You might know exactly what yours is and this article can serve as a checklist for how to utilise it. For the rest of us that are wondering what our edge is and where it might be hiding, this article is a starting point for you to unpick your potential and lay it out neatly so you can use it to your advantage.
1. Look at Your Strengths
The first thing you need to do is find your strengths. It sounds basic and it is. Write down everything that you are good at. Whether it’s a sport, area of expertise, making connections with people. Anything that comes into your head needs to get put down on paper. If you’re struggling then ask a friend, colleague, family member, etc. to help you.
Now you have everything written down on paper you need to join the dots. You need to find what all of those strengths have in common. Group sets together that seem to have common themes and think ‘what are they all examples of?’ For example, if some of your strengths were ‘I can talk to anyone easily’, ‘I’m good at team sports’ and ‘I can network well’ then a common theme there could be connection. You will probably have strengths that overlap into more than one area and at the end you will have a list of key areas.
Once you’ve got these common strengths then you need to ask yourself two questions ‘Am I using these strengths the best I can?’ and ‘What’s stopping me from using these strengths?‘
2. Purpose and Direction
This next step needs to be split into two parts and they need to be considered at the same time.
‘Start with why’
This quote from Simon Sinek carries a lot of weight when you’re searching for your edge and how to find your own unique edge. His TEDx talk is a must if you haven’t see it already. (See the end of this blog post for the link).
Consider what your goal is. Whether it’s getting a promotion, starting a company or figuring out what to do next in your life. As you consider your goal, ask yourself:
‘what am I doing?’, ‘why am I doing it?’ and ‘does my goal play to my strengths?’
If all of these align and it is crystal clear exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and it plays into your wheelhouse then congratulations! If one or more of these questions leaves you perplexed or you don’t know then you need to re-evaluate the relevant question. When all three of these questions align you are going to have a powerful drive that’s a slow burning motivation rather than something that’s going to fizzle out in a year or so.
By now you know your drive, purpose and how your skills are going to make it happen. You’re going to be pretty well equipped for going out there and pursuing short term goals like clinching that promotion or job interview. But what about if you’ve got a longer term vision? Where do you go from this step?
3. Set Targets
You’ve got all this great insight on yourself and what you’re going to do but nowhere to focus that energy! You need to break down a long term goal into smaller chunks. After a bit of playing around you’ll find the right time frame for the targets you set for yourself. Some people prefer short term goals like what to do the very next day and others prefer 3 monthly plans. Find what suits you and your goal and break your targets down as follows.
Identify your end goal and when it will happen. Next, work back and work out a 5 year, 2 year or 1 year plan based on the length of your goal you have set. After that break it down to what you need to do every 3 months, then each month, and finally each week. Once you’ve set your targets make sure you keep to them and hold yourself accountable for them.
In the first couple of weeks you can adjust your projections slightly if they are way off as you see fit. Overall, you need to be realistic! Getting someone else to do a check on your targets is a good idea or getting a coach to keep you on the right path works really well.
This blog article gives a big picture overview of what to do to start developing your edge and get you to realise your strengths and potential. In ‘how to get your edge – part 2’ we’re going to look at specific actions and skills you can utilise to make you stand out from the faceless crowd.