Stop Trying to be Original and be Original

Last week I was asked a question that I’ve been asked, and I’m sure you’ve been asked, many times before:

“What makes you unique?”

Other than my incredible knowledge of of everything Saved by the Bell related, I never have a good answer to the question, You see, “unique” is empty – it’s something we all tell ourselves, and it’s something everyone claims to be, but to define this word, you have to define yourself by what you’re not. You’re inherently comparing yourself to everyone else.

At Proof, we frequently use a brainstorming activity to help our clients arrive at their “brand essence”, which involves pairing things down through a voting process to arrive at five words that encompass and embody what the brand is and how it should be recognized.

“Unique” is a word that comes up, every single time – and it’s the first one we eliminate from the voting.

Offering something different, standing out, and being memorable is important. But “unique-ness” isn’t the way to do it. Instead, be bold. Be daring. Approachable. Challenging. Curious. Memorable. Innovative. Dynamic. Inspiring. Opinionated. Thoughtful.

Your originality doesn’t involve trying to be original, it doesn’t involve a proclamation of uniqueness. It involves action. It involves being (and staying true) to yourself.

This quote from C.S. Lewis speaks volumes in what it means to be “original”:

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

No try. Only do. Define yourself by what you are, not what you are not.

That’s what makes you original.