Why do people like sunsets? The go-to answer would be because they are beautiful, but a more intriguing answer would be that no two look exactly alike.
Yes, this is a business article, but we’re addressing more than just your business, we’re addressing your life. What you can do, as an individual entity, to stand out. What you can do as a company to stand out. How you can inspire others to stand out. How you can lead. How to look beyond the horizon to something more – while keeping your eyes on the strategies that will get you there.
Watch the sunset
Watching a sunset takes us to a contemplative place at the moment where day and night converge – and what do we find there? We find limitless amounts of potential. The day is ending, and there is a moment of peace in its conclusion, an ability for us to rest, knowledge that in the hours ahead we will be allowed to regroup and that tomorrow just might bring out incredible possibilities.
The fact that no two sunsets are alike gives each one a new and original set of characteristics, even though it is the same relative event day after day. This same notion can be applied to an industry or business. No matter what you are looking for, a product, a service, a collection of information, there is an endless string of similar yet unique alternatives.
The ritual of watching a sunset is timeless; we do it as children, as teenagers, as adults, with our children, and even our grandchildren. When we make the decision to look, most of us love picking apart all the things we notice that make it stand out; how a certain one was particularly more purple or more green (with unique inflections of red), the way the gold touches a particular cloud formation, the illuminated, colorful reflections against a body of water or a set of tall buildings. These are the things we discuss openly, what we typically put into words. What we sometimes don’t audibly express is the distinct smell of the air, the sounds around us, like an ocean, the clicking of cicadas in the summertime, or the vast, invigorating, almost larger-than-life silence of a winter sunset. The flavor of a good glass of wine or the weight of a loved one in your lap – we may make casual references to these, but these are often things that go unspoken, most of us just mention the colors.
Mention more than just the colors
Don’t make this mistake; mention more than just the colors, look for the things that no one mentions and mention them. And know when to embrace the silence and say nothing. These deeper differences represent the various levels of standing out from the crowd. If you say you saw red in that setting sun, what kind of red was it? Was it blush or rosewood or a particular shade of tangerine? This same attention to detail can be applied to almost anything.
If you are looking for a car, what kind of car is it? What brand? What does that brand offer? For every product or service that someone is looking for, whether it’s lawn cutting, greeting cards, clothing, a food or beverage, a television, a news source, there are numerous companies that offer them and many ways in which they offer them. What makes each one specific and different – what makes them stand out? Where is that niche? What makes your company different from the others? Then dive deeper, what identifies you as a distinct leader? What qualities make you positively unique to everyone else around you, and do others feel this way too? Find out. Do not be afraid to ask the important questions to colleagues, coworkers, friends, family, and employees. Inquire about your strengths and your weaknesses – make note of the suggestions to run a better company, become a better leader, and a better person.
Stand out on in a positive way
No matter where we are in our businesses, we will have a fuller experience in life when we start standing out, not only for ourselves but those around us. Though it may not always be obvious how to achieve this, to work towards a profitable individuality rather than one that will hurt us. We can learn to mold ourselves, to present in every aspect of our lives a leader – a leader that will stand out – that others will seek to become leaders themselves – and together our successes will be united. Profitability is not only measured in money, but in growth, in becoming better people, a larger disruption to an industry, a more ground-breaking business, a more helpful company, a wider source for problem-solving, and a positive mark on history. While some of these ideas may be lofty, if you believe in your distinct ability to stand out, to change some part of the world, to alter a particular aspect for the better, it will help you to create more tangible and forward-moving goals.
A view on the dusk
Do you remember a particular sunset from your childhood, how about a more recent one, how do these sunsets compare? Are they connected in some way? Have years of trials and tribulations, successes and failures, allowed you to pinpoint more diverse characteristics from this familiar event and from yourself, and are you using them to your advantage?
Strengthen your emotional intelligence
While debates continue over the place of emotional intelligence in the spectrum of actual intelligence, having a sound grasp on your emotions is important for becoming a more refined human being. Calculate how you react to different situations and how others react to you; be aware of facial expressions, tone of voice, and chosen words. Adapt appropriately to your environment, in a fair, strong, but non-confrontational manner. A good rule of thumb is to think before you react, allow yourself to digest the multiple angles of a situation before responding. Don’t even send emails until you are sure that you are replying with logical and appropriate messages. Be direct in what you want with facts that will support your ideas. Don’t be overbearing, but be confident.
Pay attention, take suggestions, & practice mindfulness
Listen to what is going on around you. Practice mindfulness. Whether it’s noting the intricate auditory and mood-setting inflections of the day’s dusky merge into the evening or being aware of what people are saying to you. Everyone has something important to say, and paying attention to this will also help you to better understand the importance of what they don’t say. Take criticism, take suggestions, and refine your own ideas. The more open you are the more you will learn and the more what you create will stand out.
Stand out and enjoy the sunset
There is a humble beauty in a sunset that we would do well to mirror. There is a fine rhythm to looking your best, feeling your best, performing your best, and inspiring people to do the same without making them feel inferior. Be humble, be respectful of your obligations and of others – always strive to do better. Keeping in line with these practices will help you to stand out. Develop your skills and help others to develop theirs. Know that there will always be complications in the quest for excellence and a night before the dawn. And while perfection is always something to strive for, it is only a concept, like the rareness of drawing a perfect circle. What we should hope for is not perfection, but a continued evolution of ourselves and the inspiration that it drives in other people. Be prepared to fail, but don’t stop until you succeed. Stand out from the crowd, and enjoy the sunset.