We’re constantly fed conflicting information about how we should or shouldn’t be, how we should behave around other people, and what the secret to success is. Truth be told, it’s not a simple list of activities and decisions that will guarantee you a spot at the top.
So the question still weighs on many of our minds: do you work to blend in or stand out? It’s a simple this or that kind of answer. But here’s a thought: how about finding a middle ground?
Empathy is what gets you far and helps you stand out in the long-run. Anyone can be the boss or play a managerial role. But how many people truly change the lives of their team members? A little empathy goes a long way, especially in leadership roles, and helps you develop more meaningful relationships with both those under you and higher-ups.
This is one of the most important lessons to put into practice. Learn from those around you; whether it’s that intern you’ve just hired, or that coworker who’s annoying and always trying to one-up you, or someone you briefly meet at a conference.
Everyone has something valuable to teach you, whether they do it knowingly or not, and the true essence of greatness being able to recognize that. By learning from others, you’re already ahead of everyone who thinks they’re better than them while simultaneously becoming one with them.
Stand out, but for the right reasons. When you see something wrong, speak up against it. While you might rub some people the wrong way, it will rest a lot easier on your conscience and help you set an example too. Toxic workplaces are so normalized that people feel disempowered, but if you can help make a change, it’s definitely worth the effort.
With that being said, though, it’s important that your actions reflect your beliefs too. Let them speak for themselves, don’t just talk the talk.
Being a team player and being open and receptive to collaboration will take you only so far in life. Look out for yourself but never at the expense of others. Learning how to contribute, receive, and exchange ideas and information is vital to your growth, and the better you are at being a team player, the more you stand out—how about that, huh?
No matter what you decide to do, make sure you know what you stand for. Without that, you’ll be a ship without a mast. No wind can take you down when you know you’re grounded.
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