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10 Ways to Break out of the Crowd and Achieve Stand Out Success

The following is adapted from The Standout Experience.

Have you ever been passed over for a job opportunity or promotion, despite being qualified?

I certainly have, and it was frustrating. I’m the better candidate, I would think. Why didn’t they pick me?

Over time, I’ve come to realize that being chosen takes much more than just hard work and getting things done. You must find a way to break out of the crowd and differentiate yourself from all the other competent, qualified candidates. 

To understand why and how certain people stand out, I’ve spent years collecting my own insights through observations and experiences. I’ve interviewed hundreds of leaders, high performers, recruiters, peers, experts in psychology and peak performance, and anyone else that I can learn from. I’ve read books, attended workshops and seminars, and listened to podcasts. 

I’ve distilled all that information down to ten key ways you can break out of the crowd and achieve stand-out success.

#1: Embrace Your Uniqueness

Above all else, to stand out, you must be unique. 

Think about doing or seeing the same thing every day. The minute someone or something interrupts that normal, it stands out and leaves an impression on your mind and often your emotions.

You are unique in your own way and no one can be you (and you can’t be anyone else). Your differences make you special. To stand out, capitalize on those differences.

#2: Provide Value

We all want to know “What’s in it for me?” People stand out when they provide some sort of utility, importance, or meaning for someone else. 

This could be a value in the form of entertainment, a good feeling, a monetary reward, or any number of other benefits, but it has to be worth something to the recipient.

#3: Work Toward Sustainability

Anyone can be different and stand out once, when everything goes right. The key is to be able to stand out consistently over the long run, even when things aren’t going so well, which enhances your brand image. 

We desire consistency, and those who stand out repeatedly are the people we remember most.

#4: Be Likeable

People must like you and/or have an admiration for you. Think about America’s Got Talent or American Idol. The contestants we root for the most are often the most likeable ones. 

You could be a great employee with a unique skill who performs consistently well over a long period of time, but if you’re not likeable, you’ll still get passed by for the most visible projects, the best opportunities, and promotions. 

So treat others well, be kind, and be conscious of your demeanor and body language.

#5: Form Connections

Working hand in hand with likeability is connection. Forming a relationship and connection with someone is key to standing out in their mind.

You might establish a connection with someone who has something you want, or perhaps they’ve undergone similar experiences. It could also be that you simply feel a positive energy with someone. 

Connections can happen naturally, but why leave this to chance? Work to build relationships at work.

#6: Perform Above Expectations

As described in The Power of Moments by Dan and Chip Heath, elevation above the norm creates lasting impressions. 

People stand out when they exceed someone else’s expectations, especially if they do so consistently. Even better is that we remember people who rise above expectations well beyond the moment when they do so.

#7: Be Extraordinary

To have the best odds of standing out, you must be extraordinary in your talent, chosen field, skill, relationships, etc. 

Being extraordinary comes from all the work that you do in private so that you can perform at a high level in public. It’s one thing to be different than someone’s expectation, but you might be different in the wrong way. To truly stand out, you need to be different and do it in a way that is so extraordinary, we all admire what you can do in the moment. 

Master your abilities and your craft, and you will master the moments that matter.

#8: Put Out Good Energy

Have you ever noticed that some people just have a glowing, infectious charisma about them? Those with a positive energy like this are more likely to achieve stand-out success.

Energy is constantly moving and transferring around us. You’ve experienced it before when you’ve walked into a room and the air is thick with tension, or your mood changed when you ran into someone who was having a bad day. 

If two people are equally qualified for a role, a promotion, or even a date, the one who exudes a more positive energy will be chosen almost every time.

#9: Appeal to the Senses

To stand out, you must have an impact on the senses, as these are closely connected to memory and our emotions.

The more senses you can appeal to, the more you’ll stand out. Humans are visual creatures and our eye goes to that which appeals to it. We also tend to remember things associated with certain smells, sounds, tastes, and we’re drawn to the sense of touch. 

The deeper you touch someone’s senses, the stronger the emotional connection you will form.

#10: Move People’s Emotions

People rise above the crowd when they move our emotions. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Sometimes it’s the overwhelming sense of happiness that exudes from their appearance, or it could be touching moments of sadness and empathy from their hearts that moves us. So many times, we want to be associated with and support people who move our emotions in a certain way. 

So focus on how you make others feel about you.

Stand Out From the Crowd

Standing out is not reserved for only the special top percent of the population. Some people may find it easier or more natural to stand out, but we all have the opportunity to experience standing out.

Each of these ten elements is something you can practice and get better at. You’re probably good at several already, so focus on those where you’re weakest.

By working to have as many of the ten elements working in your favor as possible, you can begin to stand out above the competition.

For more advice on how to stand out and achieve success, you can find The Standout Experience on Amazon.

John Walsh is an inspirational and successful executive, entrepreneur, author, husband and dad with a passion for impacting the lives of others. John faced many challenges, uncertainty and failures early in his life but he created a purposeful and happy life with a lot of hard work and help from others. Over time, he created a playbook that allowed him to make the journey from homeless in high school to a senior executive with Disney and Madison Square Garden. He is also the founder and CEO of a company whose mission is to inspire and help millions of young adults stand out in their own lives and careers.