Are you a back-seat driver in your own life? We’re in Godin’s forever recession – differentiate yourself.

I was reading Vivian Giang’s article “Seth Godin: If You’re An Average Worker, You’re Going Straight To The Bottom“. Now I’m not a big fan of Business Insider, because I think they trivialise matters and are in it for the page views and not the insight, but I seem to keep sending traffic their way.

Take a read of the article; you may find, like me, that you understand a bit of what Godin is trying to say. For 80 years ago, 80% of the workforce was self-employed. Now 80% of the workforce is employed, and they have got used to a culture of entitlement where you do your hours, pay your dues and get your retirement package.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, if you worked for Andersen Consulting or IBM, this equated to a boot camp on some technology or other, and bums on seats, earning your employer the big bucks.

But the world has changed and it is no more visible in the services marketplace in which I work – perhaps more visible than anywhere else. Because if people are paying a substantial day rate for your services – and that is universally true in the corner of Enterprise IT in which I work – they expect very tangible value.

There are those people who were born differentiators in my team. For instance, there are those that have a way of spotting cool new technology and relating it to customers businesses. These guys will probably always be one step ahead of the curve and always be able to add insight and value.

“If you’re different somehow and have made yourself unique, people will find you and pay you more” – Seth Godin

But this is what made me think, because this is a pretty elitist thing to say. Surely only the best people can be unique. The elite. And the more I thought about this, the less I believe it’s true.

I suspect that the secret to this could be as simple as knowing what you could be great at. With some people it’s bloody obvious, and their skills come to the forefront. With others, their differentiators are less obvious. Perhaps being easy to work with and never complaining. Or the gel to the team that isn’t visible, but keeps everything together. Or, the detail person, the completer-finisher, the documenter. Perhaps the ability to relate to people. To listen. To disseminate.

And perhaps the only thing you really need to know, is your strengths. Perhaps you should ask around a bit and find out what people value in you?

Because if there’s one thing that’s true about what Godin’s got to say – there is only one person that will differentiate you – and that’s you. You are in charge of your own destiny here, and that includes articulating your own value proposition. Are you being a back-seat driver in your own life?

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5 Responses to Are you a back-seat driver in your own life? We’re in Godin’s forever recession – differentiate yourself.

  1. Michael Koch says:

    There is only one path in your life that no one can walk except YOU.
    Where it leads? Don’t ask. Walk it.

    (F. Nietzsche)

  2. Gary Elliott says:

    Some great points. My take is (which I read somewhere but can’t remember where): everyone is their own CEO. 80% have 1 client, their employer. Think like that and you will believe that you have control over how to further your career. That extra bit of work, study, effort benefits you directy and provides a quality service to your no1 client, your employer.

  3. All of which is fine and dandy but some (80%) people just want to earn a wage and get drunk at weekends, play golf, watch TV…whatever.

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