Stand out

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

Dorothy is unapologetically ambitious. She walks into a room and you know for sure, she has not come to play games. Her aura reeks of confidence and when she speaks, it is simply confirmed. Dorothy will stop at nothing to get what she wants, professionally. If it means stepping on a few toes, so be it. While she may not be the friendliest or most loyal person, you can count on her hard work and willingness to go the extra mile for a project to prosper. Can you think of any ‘Dorothy’ in your life?

I have worked with my fair share of Dorothy’s and if I had not spent so much time concentrating on what they were doing ‘wrong,’ perhaps I would have learnt a thing or two about what they were doing right. I know better now. There is a reason why Dorothy will get another raise while you gossip about her Jimmy choos or try to hate on her four wheel drive, find that reason. While we are not all capable of being ‘ruthless,’ I believe we can all leverage certain qualities that we already have. If you notice that those are lacking, find something that makes you more valuable than the next guy.

Dorothy is constantly finding ways to save the company money. Tell me which boss wouldn’t love that? If you leave the tap running, make all your personal calls using the company line and download the biggest files that ever existed because “these people make so much money, let me punish them,” then perhaps you need to rethink waking up every morning to go this job.

Dorothy initiated end of month dinners where the bosses get to mingle with their employees at the ‘same level.’ Originally, she was given a small budget to work with. She accepted and went ahead anyway. Today, the budget is three times what she started with and teamwork has visibly improved. While her female co-workers are hating on her, (because some women absolutely love to see another woman succeed) she is steadily rising in the ranks and has convinced her boss to sponsor her MBA. Can you get a caterer who charges less than your current provider, with better quality food? Are your workmates complaining about being unable to afford the gym? Can you pitch the idea of bringing a trainer to the workplace instead on Fridays, perhaps? Maybe you can even get the afternoon hours slashed on Friday. Do you know a gifted financial analyst who can break down issues for the average person to comprehend? Can you get him to train your colleagues? These ideas might be generic and a tad simplistic but you know better what your company needs. What can you do to help them get it? If you do only what you are told to do, your salary shall come and every month will look like the next. However, if you stand out, there are chances you will become indispensable. Alternatively, if you choose to move, you will be guaranteed a good recommendation and open doors if you ‘change your mind.’

I am not the most confident person out there but I have taught myself to take small steps towards ‘faking it right.’ I can’t say I have mastered the art but I do notice progress every now and then. Pastor Njoro had this habit of mentioning 40-40 out of the blue during a sermon. That was okay but occasionally he would look around and ask “Esther, are you around, can you stand up?” At that point my legs would fail me. I vividly remember the 4 year celebrations when he asked me to stand up to be celebrated and I got up for two seconds and sat back down. “Who told you I have finished? You need to learn to own this. Stand up while I continue” Goodness! I needed the ground to just swallow me, not me and my belongings, just me, forever. I never did get used to it. He would meet someone and ask “Have you heard of 4040?” Person X: No Him: What? Esther, come and tell your story. It is at that point that my mind would go blank and my lips magically inherit invisible super glue. I had to keep reminding myself to own my trade because no one would buy into it if I was not confident enough to speak up. I still cringe when I am put on the spot and I can’t say I have nailed every aspect of the process but I am trying, so can you.

“It’s your difference that sets you apart not your similarity, stand out!”

These days I am in a room full of mostly strangers and they ask for volunteers, suddenly, I notice my hand going up and I am like ‘What is this?’ ‘Who are you?’ Progress 🙂

For the past couple of weeks, I have had to write recommendations for members of my team (may they get these positions, Amen) and I had to edit and re-edit to stop making them sound too perfect. I was almost that student who wants extra paper in an exam where others can’t fill up one foolscap! Give me the same assignment to write a personal statement or so and I shall be running to one of my confidants to advise on what I should write. I know I am not the only one (Hi you) but I also know it gets better with time.

It is time for us to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to get what we want. Go hard! No matter how honest, intelligent and generally awesome you are, nobody is going to find you in your sleep and whisper ‘Hey, this opportunity is just for you, we await your presence oh mighty one.’

Always a reference point for me this one! Google image.
Always a reference point for me this one!
Google image.

However, if you do challenge yourself to lean in, get noticed for all the right reasons, ask a follow up question, network, network and network, some people may just search for you amidst your beauty sleep.

Go get ‘em!

4 Replies to “Stand out”

  1. Thanks a lot for the feedback. One of the few reasons why I write even when I don’t always feel like it. I always hope someone can relate or even be inspired.
    Thanks for reading 🙂


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