The World Needs You – All of You: How to Not Become a Commodity
Tuesday August 28, 2018

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“Have your own unique way of looking at the world especially when it could be of immense value to the market place. Learning across interdisciplinary subjects will help you avoid becoming a commodity. When you become a commodity, your skill sets are replaceable and you face increased competition from people and AI alike. It is much better to embrace your own quirks and unique insights that only you can bring to the table. Initially, it will be difficult as you might feel a sense of me against the world, but it will help you cultivate the independent and creative thinking that the world needs.” The Art of Improvement YouTube channel

One in three Americans over the age of 26 holds a bachelor’s degree (U.S. Census Bureau) .

Compare 33% of Americans with bachelor degrees in 2017 to 28% in 2007 and 4.6% in 1940. Great strides have been made to provide the opportunity and the means to successfully acquire a higher education. And while the degrees are in a variety of fields, the key to job security, the key to deeper fulfillment in your chosen career path of which your bachelor’s degree may directly or indireclty assist you in acquiring, is to use it as a jumping off point from which to express your unique gifts to the world. 

I am using the example of the college degree as an equivalent to a commodity as it is more widely earned, but if there is little differentiation between one applicant who holds the same degree and another, the eventual hire is more easily replaceable. 

Nobody wants to be replaceable in a position or way of life they love, but in order to be irreplaceable, even though not everyone will want or appreciate what we have to offer, we must find within ourselves what we can uniquely share with the world. Now to be fair, what we discover will not be labeled just that “What You Can Uniquely Offer the World!”. Nope, it will be quite opaque. But it is your careful listening to yourself, your following of your intuition that will help you, much like a dog or a pig that hunts truffles in the winter, discover a treasure to be found. 

Now don’t think that you must be an entrepeneur to offer what the world needs from you. Absolutely not. In every profession, in every way of life – whether you work directly with others or not, whether you work with a staff or at home in your home office, you can contribute uniquely and be irreplaceable. Here’s how:

  1. Become clear about what you are going to offer the world. Dive deep, take time to be still with yourself and listen. What is always dancing around in your mind? What are you regularly spending time doing without being asked and thoroughly enjoying yourself? What do you do seemingly without effort that others find difficult?
  2. It will take time. Commodities can be created seemingly overnight. What you uniquely have to offer will take time to not only discover, but to mine and then bring to fruition. 
  3. You will struggle initially. People will doubt what you have to offer, what you say you can bring, but once you continue to bring it consistently, once you demonstrate regularly for perhaps years that what you say you will do and can do, you actually do indeed do and do so consistently, then they will trust you. Consider Oprah, Apple, Meryl Streep. Each of these individuals and/or companies offered something unique, but it was with time that the world finally realized they were indeed as good as they they first presented themselves to be AND continued to improve even further as the years passed by. 
  4. You will have to invest without promises. In other words, you will have to take risks, but the risks will be easier to take when you trust who you know yourself to be and what you can uniquely offer the world. 
  5. Marry the logical with the emotional. In other words, your logical offering will be the proof provided by your actions – consistent, dependable, regular. But do not forget to share your heart, why you are passionate about what you do, why you believe in it. For when you do this you will connect with others. Partly, it is the proof of igniting before their eyes as Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in Big Magic. Because when you unabashedly get excited, others want to see why and how they too can be so filled with joy and excitement. And then when you show them how to do it, if it speaks to them, you have inspired them to act. This is not something that can be found just anywhere – this is what will make you unique. Just be yourself – ignite before their eyes. 
  6. Be patient and invest in quality. You are worth the investment. Maybe it a specialized education, maybe it is investing in time with an expert in the field you wish to learn more about. Whatever area of expertise you know will strength the unique you you want to bring to the world, invest wisely and well. Don’t skimp, but do your homework to understand what you are investing in and whether or not it is necessary and potentially worth more than what you will pay. 

We often talk about controling what we can and letting go of what we cannot so that we can better focus our energies. And while initially it may seem that when we choose to be and offer what is unique to the world that we are dealing with what we cannot control, what we are actually doing – the long run, is putting more in our control.

How,? We are betting on ourselves, believing in ourselves, that we have something the world will eventually recognize and value to be unique. Even if it is just in the small town that we open our restaurant in and the town comes to deeply value and appreciate it, we are offering our unique selves. We are irreplaceable. Or the specialized, attentive and personal service you give at your accounting, nursing or medical practice that would be sorely missed if you moved or retired. Give of yourself as you are. Your gifts are unique. The world is waiting and within your giving is your eventual job security as well as your new found source of true contentment.


4 thoughts on “The World Needs You – All of You: How to Not Become a Commodity

  1. Hi Shannon,
    I needed to read this exact post after the end of a long week. It is so well written and I truly appreciate your perspective on this topic.
    Two statements that resonated with me :
    You will struggle initially
    You will have to invest without promises.
    I am working full time while finishing my PhD . I’m officially a Doctoral Candidate! I work in a field completely unrelated to my academic discipline and I often have people say: that’s crazy how and why are you doing that?! For me, it’s helped me to focus on what I do well regardless of what job I’m in or the discipline. Slowly but surely that’s working in my favor as I celebrate 10 years this fall with my institution. As I have been promoted I am so thankful for the different vantage points. The perspective helps me be of service in a way that I am passionate about. As I have watched your blog and brand grow over the years, I’ve truly been inspired. Your passion & commitment are clear

  2. As always. Shannon, you are so on target. I just sent this to a group of young women, fresh out of college, I know they will be inspired.

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