“Whatever makes you weird, is probably your greatest asset.”

Joss Whedon – who holds a laundry list of television and movie credits, most recently as the Director of The Avengers – made this astute observation. He went on to say that normal is boring, that people’s best work comes from their weirdness. So, “Embrace it, nurture it and use what comes from it to create wonderful things. It is, after all, your greatest asset.”

Whether you are searching for your heart’s work to begin a new career path, or simply trying to incorporate a little more passion into your daily life, here are some simple steps to identify, embrace, and embody your unique value:

FIND IT

I work with a lot of clients who are actively seeking something different in their careers. People recognizing that they have climbed too many rungs on the wrong ladder. They are ready to focus on something else, but just aren’t sure what that “thing” may be.

There are a variety of formal assessments on the market that can help to identify and prioritize your interests and skills. The most notable, perhaps, is The Clifton StrengthsFinder. An incredible resource to assess your true talents and help you build upon them.

For those looking for a simpler, more organic route, I suggest you turn to the expert: YOU.

Evidence of your passions is in front of you every day. Observe your own behavior and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I unapologetically passionate about?
  • How would I spend my time if money was no object?
  • What are the things that people thank me for?

That last one can be very revealing. Notice how you help others. Claim the skills you do without thinking.

You would be amazed by how a small amount of self-reflection can reveal your true value. Commit to a few days of heightened awareness, and you will begin to hone in on that one driving force.

Once you find your unique value, it’s time to embrace it.

OWN IT 

We all seem comfortable with the notion of strengths. We also seem to acknowledge that we each have them. The part we struggle with is believing that our strengths make us strong. As humans, we often battle that inner voice that tells us to blend in, go with the flow, be “normal.”

Sacrificing who you are for the sake of what others think just isn’t worth it. – Brene Brown

But what makes you weird is what sets you apart – it’s your own personal brand. Think of those ladies with the red hats, or that speaker who wore the crazy tie during his luncheon presentation. They drew attention to their uniqueness instead of shying away from it. As a result, they made a lasting impression. Isn’t that what branding is all about?

Embrace who you are. Find the courage to shine a light on what makes you different. Because when “different” is paired with confidence, it can lead to extreme success.

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, grew up with a speech impediment. He never felt comfortable having normal face-to-face conversations with people. Now the world talks to one another in 140 character spurts over 500 million times per day.

Like Dorsey, finding and accentuating your greatest asset can change the way people think and interact with one another. Spend five minutes brainstorming all of the ways your weird can positively impact the world.

  • Will it make them smile?
  • Will it make them think?
  • Will it inspire them to act differently?

USE IT

A strength may come naturally to us, but we need to make the choice to use it. This connected world we live in provides endless opportunities to put our unique brand to use. Consider the following as safe spaces to try out and hone your craft:

  • Freelance or contract work
  • Volunteerism
  • Local hobby groups
  • Online chats
  • The blogosphere

The great singer/songwriter Andrea Bocelli started his career as a lawyer. He worked part-time at a piano bar as an outlet for his love of music. He is now the biggest-selling singer in the history of Classical music.

Leveraging your uniqueness does not have to mean uprooting your life to make a significant career shift. It can translate to a new volunteer experience or part-time gig. Whatever you do, share your talents with the world. You owe it to yourself and those around you to let your freak flag fly.