The Authentically Authentic
Guide to Communicating
Marketing, Storytelling, Public Relations, Buzzwords, and Other Dark Arts
This article originally published on Inc.com
A lot of people end up being successful.
And some of those successful people end up being rich.
But very few people actually make their mark on the world and leave us all better off for having known them.
We need more of those people.
Here's advice on how to make your mark on the world, starting today.
1. Focus on what you're good at.
We've all been asked the interview question:
"So what's your biggest weakness?"
And at some point all of us have given one of those godawful answers that try to reframe a strength as a weakness.
"I care too much."
"I work too hard."
"I can be a perfectionist."
If you ever interview for a job with our company, I hope you answer the question in a real way. I would be far more inclined to hire the person that says, "I'm a crystal meth addict, and this election season has been a real challenge to my sobriety," over the person who tells me, "I'm too motivated for my own good."
At least I know the meth addict is a real human being who values honesty. The only thing I know about the allegedly "too motivated" person is that they are just telling me what they think I want to hear.
But I won't ask you that question anyway.
People spend far too much time trying to mitigate the weaknesses of themselves and others, rather than developing their strengths.
In a recent NPR interview, Bruce Springsteen acknowledged that he wasn't the greatest guitar player or singer, and that if he was "Going to project an individuality, it's going to have to be in my writing."
Bruce knew his writing was what differentiated him, and was what would ultimately help him leave his mark on the world. So he focused on his strengths, rather than his weaknesses.
And so should you.
2. Get even better at what you're good at.
You have strengths, just like Bruce does.
And you can use them to make your mark on the world, just like he did.
But right now, at this very moment, there are millions of people working hard to be better than you. And since terms like "good" and "better" are subjective and relative, what makes you better today can make you mediocre tomorrow.
And if you want to do something as big as making your mark on the world, you can never rest.
You can never stop getting better.
You can never stop learning.
You can never stop working hard.
And you must always...
3. Empty the tank.
It wasn't coincidental that I referenced Bruce Springsteen at the beginning of this article. His music and his writing have been the single biggest influence in my life and shaped me in a way that exceeds even the influence of my parents.
(Granted, it's not like the competition is stiff. My mom's advice to never let the cops in our house without a warrant pales in comparison, inspirationally speaking, with the lyrics of "Badlands.")
But I'm not the only one Bruce Springsteen influenced.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart said this of Springsteen at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors:
"I would get in my car every night and would put in the music of Bruce Springsteen, and everything changed. And I never again felt like a loser. When you listen to Bruce's music, you aren't a loser. You are a character in an epic poem...about losers.
But that is not the power of Bruce Springsteen.
The power of Bruce Springsteen is that whenever I see Bruce Springsteen do anything, he empties the tank - every time."
Find your strengths. Make those strengths even stronger.
Then go out and empty the tank--every time.