Giraffes are odd looking. They are disproportionate with their long necks and comparatively teeny heads. Their necks are too long to allow them to bend over to drink without splaying their legs. They tower over all other mammals at about 15-20 feet. And the list goes on. YET, as odd or awkward as they may appear, they are beautifully UNIQUE.
Leo Buscaglia said it best, “You are uniquely something that will never happen again,” and I don’t think he was talking about giraffes! Nonetheless, I think this awkwardly beautiful animal called a giraffe can teach all of us something … and that is to be uniquely YOU.
Giraffes are my favorite animal. I mean I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them. I identify with them; they are different. I feel different too. Growing up I stood out, and it wasn’t in a way my peers embraced. No, it wasn’t because I towered over others (in fact I was the second shortest person in my senior class of 180). I stood out because I was seen as strange … weird … odd … quirky. Why? I wore hand-me-downs and glasses too large for my face (thank you to my parents). I had bad haircuts and really bad perms (thank you Mom). I dressed in polka-dots, knickers, and suspenders while my peers dressed in expensive Jordache jeans (thank you to myself). I laughed at things others didn’t find humorous. I didn’t party, swear, drink, smoke, etc. I tried to be “artsy,” but didn’t get it quite right. I wanted to be my own person. And I had a deep deep longing to be noticed. I tried to accept myself for all that I was, yet I tried to be liked and accepted by others. These two things weren’t congruent, and I spent years trying to reconcile it and cultivate self-esteem. How could I be the true me AND be what others wanted me to be?
It was a long road, but I finally did it! In my early twenties I gave myself full permission to be the quirky, energetic, talkative, ridiculous, sometimes outrageous me regardless of who others thought I should be. I full accepted that I thought differently and approached things differently than most people. How liberating it was!
Today, I fully embrace being uniquely myself, including a pretty impressive collection of giraffes. And being uniquely me isn’t taking on the attitude “if you don’t like me, that’s your problem”. It is more so that I am okay with who I am and I’m also okay with who you are.
It is this lesson I take from giraffes and urge you to do the same. Identify what makes you wonderfully unique. Then fully embrace it and use it to inspire and be infectious. It’s called Generate G Factor, and your ability to let it shine can be a game changer! Says who, you ask? Says the over 800 working professionals I surveyed. I asked these folks: What draws you to others in the workplace? What makes you want to work with or for someone? What makes you trust someone? They said one of the top characteristics is someone’s ability to inspire others and be infectious.
So, what makes you uniquely you? If you know, please leave a comment right now! If you don’t, keep reading for help figuring it out!
ONE. Write out your first name vertically and choose an adjective that describes you for each letter. (If you have a short name, add your middle and/or last name.)
TWO. Add any other adjectives that describe you.
THREE. Identify patterns to uncover what makes YOU BEAUTIFULLY UNIQUE.
FOUR. Let it shine!
What I would LOVE more than giraffes right now is to read what you will use to inspire and be infectious!
Okay, how does this translate to the workplace?
Use what you got! For me, I use my “unique” or “different” way of thinking to stand out as a communication consultant. Being quirky is part of my brand. See this headshot ————————->>
I ask questions others don’t think of asking. I develop creative, exciting training solutions others don’t think of developing. I show up to trainings fully as myself to entertain and get employees excited to learn. I let my quirky, energetic, and ridiculous self shine through vulnerable stories of my screw ups, beach ball learning activities, jokes, and occasional cheerleading jump. And you know what? I’ve built a decade-old successful consulting business by – being – uniquely – me.
So … be more like a giraffe. Be uniquely you and let it shine in what you do and how you do it!
P.S. Giraffe FUN FACT – each giraffe has their very own, unique coat pattern.
To learn more about being uniquely you: