Building Your Competitive Advantage
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[ACTIVITY] Q & A: The Benefits Of Individuality


What are the benefits of being an individual, as opposed to someone who just wants to be like everyone else?  -Jennifer M., graduate student

NOTE: Be sure to check out the activity at the end of the article.

Asserting your individuality or promoting your personal brand will increase your sense of significance, as well as your perceived value in the marketplace, but asserting your individuality in the wrong way could be perceived as arrogance. Not good. There’s the short version of your answer. I could leave it at that but…that wouldn’t be much fun, would it?

Emotionally healthy people feel as if they add value to their environment. And others will perceive them as adding more value as well. This helps to strengthen their personal brands and establish a competitive advantage. A person with the right combination humility, confidence, and a clear sense of his or her value has a much greater chance of being successful.

I know that it sounds morally incorrect to talk about one person being more valuable then another. We’re all human, right? Yes, we are. You and I both know, however, that is NOT how it works in the real world. People value skills—soft skills and hard skills. In most circumstances, the more rare and unique (in a good way) your skill set is, the higher your perceived value is.

Million-Dollar Question:
Why do you want to assert your individuality?

I’m not sure what your reason are for wanting to shine as an individual are. There are 3 things, however, to watch out for when asserting your individuality: arrogance, jealousy, and I-ness.


It takes confidence to stand out and it takes confidence to know your true worth. There is a thin line, however, between confidence and arrogance. In fact, that line is probably invisible.

So, how do you know when you’ve crossed that line? Ahhhh, young grasshopper, if it were only that simple! The answer to that question is subjective. Different people will call the same person confident or arrogant.

But I believe that at the core of confidence there is certain sense of humility and a willingness to learn from people who may not be as talented as you are. An arrogant person completely lacks these qualities. Also, people love confidence, they despise arrogance.


Next there’s the jealousy. The more your individuality shines through the more you’ll stand out. The more you stand out the more people will be jealous of you. Haters. “Who does she think she is?! Beyonce?”

This is why you must help people. When you give of yourself, fewer people will envy you and more people will appreciate you. They will still “wanna be like Mike”, but that’s called admiration.


I-ness is having a beliefs like “It’s all about me”, “I can’t trust anybody”, and “I’ve gotta do everything”. Quite often this is a person’s attitude when they are trying to prove their significance and value. (I know… sometimes it’s that they don’t trust anybody, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.)

Duncan Nugget® #150:
No one succeeds alone. No exceptions. Someone helped you even if you didn’t know it.

It’s fruitless to try to assert your individuality in this manner. The most beautiful flowers in the world couldn’t grow without the soil. So, maybe the flowers should show some appreciation every now and then. The dirt deserves some love too!

Here are 4 keys to promoting your individuality effectively:

1. Focus on your strengths, manage your weaknesses . You can become better at things that you don’t do well, but you can become exceptional at things you can do well.

I not saying that you should completely ignore your weakness. I’m saying that you should spend the majority of your personal development and self-improvement time working on your strengths. Especially the soft skills that will enhance them, and you will stand out for sure.

Duncan Nugget® #30
Focus on your strengths. It’s one of the secrets of building a competitive advantage.

2. Increase your awareness. Learn as much as possible about the people in your environment or profession. Then you will be able to highlight the differences between you and them in a positive way.

3. Get away from “typical”, do something different. Peer pressure is often just as challenging for adults as it is for teens, but too much conformity kills individuality. Break away from the norm every now and then. (Keep it legal!)

4. Ask a few people that you know personally and professionally what makes you different from anyone else they know. You might not like everything they say, but their perception doesn’t have to be your reality. Write down what they say and use it to your advantage.

5. Remember, when the team wins, you win. Isn’t it interesting that I’m  ending an article on individuality by writing about team work? Believe it or not, being an awesome team player can help you to shine. It provides proof of the value you bring to the table. When you are around, the team wins. That’s a strong statement of your individuality and a great part of your personal brand. Competitive advantage? Check.

Duncan Nugget® #306:
Individuals may shine, but teams win. 


Got a question? Use this form to ask Al.


Activity: Discovering Your Strengths


Participants will begin to explore their skills and abilities to discover their strengths. This can be done as an activity or individual assignment.


Depending on the individual or group, you may need to offer some examples of skills or provide a list. You can use this list of soft skills on You may also want to create a list of hard/technical skills from various professions.


30-60 minutes

Explain to the individual or group you are working with that part of personal branding and individuality is discovering your strengths. Then give them the following instructions.

1. Write down your dream career. (If you can’t think of a career, think of someone that you consider to be great in a career that might interest you. Write down his or her career and use it as your dream career for now.)

2. Write down 1-3 activities that you enjoy.

3a. For individuals: Make a list of 3-5 skills that will help you succeed in your dream career and your activities. (Remember you can use this list.)

3b. For groups: Break the group into teams. Have each team come up with a list of skills they all need to succeed in their careers and activities. (Be prepared to offer suggestions.) If time permits, you can have the groups compare lists in a group discussion. After this is complete break up the teams and send everyone back to their original places.

4. Look at your list of skills. Which one of these skills is your best one? Now write a 1, 2, or 3 next to each of the skills according to which of the following statements best describes it: 1) “I’m good at this.” 2) “I’m average at this.” to 3) “I’m need a lot of improvement.”

5. Using the skills you marked with a 1 (these are you strengths), create 3-5 actions steps you can take to get better at your best.

7. (Optional) You can repeat this process with the skills marked with a 2 or 3, but remember…Focus on your strengths. Spend most of your time working on what you do best.

6. (Optional) Have members of the group discuss their lists and action steps.


A List Of Soft Skills

Click here for a list of soft skills definitions, and behavioral indicators.

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