The Uniqueness of Uniqueness

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We are all unique, in almost every way. From our DNA, to our fingerprints, our eyes, our hair, our personality, our dreams and desires – our uniqueness defines who we are.

Funnily enough, uniqueness is completely ubiquitous, it is present throughout the universe. Everything in the universe is unique. There are no two snowflakes, no two grains of sand, no two clouds in the sky that are exactly the same.

Even manufactured items produced by machines with incredible precision, and which may appear uniform at first glance, contain small differences – albeit microscopic – that make them ultimately unique.

I find this infinite variation in our universe awe-inspiring. Everything should be appreciated for its unique beauty in its own time and place.

The fleeting manner in which we encounter so many elements in our lives – the uniqueness of the human experience – should make it even more precious. Whether it’s a friendship which makes a difference when you need it, a chance moment that pushes your life in a new direction, or the simple crunch of leaves under foot on a crisp autumn day, our lives are filled with uniqueness every single day.

And of course, each day is unique in its own way. We can be guilty sometimes of forgetting this; it can be too easy to forget the unique awesomeness that each day brings, and the endless possibilities contained within it.

It can be easy to brush aside a day as just another day – the same, hum-drum, monotony. We wish away the days so we can get to the weekend or the next holiday, when we can feel alive!

To truly appreciate the gift of the possible, to embrace the uniqueness of our lives, of our experiences and of our potential, we have to take ownership for what can be done, what could happen, what we make possible.

Every day, month and year of your life offers unique opportunities to live life on your terms, to seek happiness and fulfilment. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but what other option have you got?

Something as unique as your life shouldn’t be wasted, wished away or spent in a rut of unhappiness. Do what you want. Live your life. Be you.

Embrace your uniqueness.


Image credit: Jude Beck | stocksnap.io

 

I Didn’t See The Signs…

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If you live in the UK you could share in one of my particular frustrations: the sheer volume of signs on our roads. It’s like we have made an industry out of producing and erecting them, often clustered together within just a few meters of each other.

Even when driving at a steady pace, it’s difficult to take them all in, or remember and apply the information or instructions they convey. (Just to clarify, I do recognise speed limit signs – I don’t want my license revoked thanks to this blog!).

The signs are there to protect both road users and pedestrians, and I have no issue with the notion of protecting ourselves. But there is a danger that the more signs we see, the less we pay attention to them.

We sign to say we have read and understood the terms and conditions, when in fact we’ve done neither. There are too many of them to read, so we don’t read any of them – researchers in Norway found that, on average, it would take over 31 hours just to read the terms and conditions associated with the most commonly used smartphone apps.

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When We Can We Will

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We all have things we want to do, things we want to achieve. Changing career, learning a language, clearing out the spare room. Some of them are big, some of them are small. Some are dreams, some are goals, some are just “stuff”.

We all also have reasons we don’t get round to doing some, or all, of these things. We seem to be under some sort of illusion that there is a time in the near future when we will “get round to it”, a magical time called “when we can, we will”.

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve fallen into the trap of “when I can, I will”; there are a couple of things on my goals list that seem firmly entrenched in that position. No one is perfect, right?!

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Does Selling Exist Anymore?

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I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.

I detest bad sales.

And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.

Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.

Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.

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Time: Capital or Income?

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“How are you spending your time?”

“Has it been a valuable use of your time?”

“Time is money, you know.”

We use economic terms to describe our use of time, so why not extend the economic terms to our definition of time, not just our usage? Do you consider time to be capital or income?

How you view your time can impact significantly how you spend it. If you view time as income, then it is in essence never ending. Yes, we all know that eventually our time “comes to an end”, but that point is hopefully far off in the distance. And we don’t want to morbidly spend our time considering our demise. But if you view time as income, it gets refreshed, every minute, every hour, every day, week and month. There’s always more time, in the same way that our income gets refreshed each month (hopefully!).

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The Hidden Cost Of Perfection

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Vegetables in a supermarket, so uniform and perfect, but how many tonnes of misshapen fruit and veg are dumped by farmers because supermarkets don’t want them? Because we won’t buy them. I don’t remember being asked, do you?

Or have we been asked without knowing? Have we shopped for vegetables and picked out the straighter carrots, the redder tomatoes, the rounder lettuce, leaving the rest for the supermarket to dump and take the cost?

Over the years the supermarkets buy what their consumers (that’s us) want to buy. We are clearly demanding perfection. So each year in the UK (and many other developed countries) masses of edible food are dumped, when less than a 10 hour flight away human beings are literally dying of starvation.

Fundamentally, regardless of economic theories, that is wrong.

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The Most Valuable Thing On The Planet

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What is the most valuable thing on the planet?

When we talk about value, we have a tendency to attach a monetary value; what is something worth in Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Yen? Most things, even your happiness, can be attached to an economic value. And, because we live in an economic world, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without money.

So what is the most expensive thing money could buy? At the moment it’s probably the company Apple, with a market value of approximately half a trillion dollars. Just pause and consider that: five hundred billion dollars. It is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.

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Shuffle and Skip

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The music industry has transformed at an inconceivable rate over the course of the last few decades. The MP3 player, the iPod / iPhone and all manner of streaming music services have completely changed how we listen to and consume music.

Gone are the days of buying an album and listening to it all the way through, carefully listening to every new note and nuance by an artist you loved. It would sometimes take several listens for you to appreciate an album; you might not have liked some tracks at first, but through an investment of repeated listenings they would grow on you in time.

Now we live in a world where everything is on constant shuffle. We are all too quick to skip a track, hoping something better will come along. Quick! If a song hasn’t grabbed you in the first ten seconds, skip and move on.

The advent of music streaming services exposes us to music that we wouldn’t previously have committed to purchasing. It presents opportunities to easily discover and explore different performers and genres. But for the artist it also becomes a tougher world. As listeners and consumers we can all sit like judges on a talent show panel, ready and able to dismiss with one click of a button if we’re not instantly impressed. What if this mentality seeps into other aspects of our lives?

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It Doesn’t Count

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As a society we seem obsessed with measuring something so that we can put a number on it. Maybe it’s because of our tendency to perceive numbers as facts. But it does mean we risk missing things that could be equally important, or perhaps more so, than the things we can attach a number to.

In business it’s all about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  As we strive to represent performance as a number, the KPIs take on paramount importance in understanding how a business is doing, even though less tangible aspects such as employee engagement, or customer experience are also massively important ingredients in achieving success.

Sadly, it seems that what we can’t count, ends up not counting.

If we overlook or dismiss such intangibles, we limit our understanding. We do ourselves and our businesses a disservice because we’re missing out on important opportunities to learn, to grow or to develop.

The same applies to schools and education. In the UK and many other countries, there is an obsession with school league tables. There’s a considerable over-emphasis on counting the numbers of children who can read, spell and perform calculations to a certain level. Yet there is plenty of truly valuable stuff that doesn’t get counted – and therefore doesn’t count – because it can’t be reduced to a number in a league table…

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You Can’t Argue With The Numbers

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Numbers, and in particular mathematics, are considered to be the language of science. As such, numbers take on a particularly amazing quality: they’re immediately associated with facts and statistics. For example, did you know that only 1% of people who set out to achieve a goal actually succeed? The other 99% fail or give up.

Numbers are also used to describe the world around us and, of course, the absolute truth must come down to a number. As Douglas Adams so brilliantly revealed in “The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.

Whilst Adams wonderfully highlighted the nonsense of bringing all our scientific discoveries and explanations of the universe down to a single number, there’s no denying the pervasive influence numbers have on our lives. And because we associate them with facts, with science and, ultimately, with the truth, we have a tendency to believe numbers even if they are not backed up with facts. We’ve come to accept numbers as facts. As we’re so often told, “you can’t argue with the numbers!”

But perhaps we should.

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