How To Identify Your Unique Ability In Business & Grow Freely

Dan Sullivan
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The following is a modified excerpt from Dan’s quarterly book Innovation Over Envy.

We live in a world where there’s an emphasis on trying to establish equality among people. Political and social systems try to assert that no one’s birth circumstances should be thought of as superior or inferior. In other words, they want conditions to be such that no one in society is either advantaged or disadvantaged.

But the fact is that everyone is born into unequal circumstances, and the only question is how each individual responds to theirs. It isn’t unfairness—it’s uniqueness.

Because unequal circumstances are everyone’s starting point, you are completely free to focus on your own uniqueness and Unique Ability—what you love to do and do best. As an entrepreneur or business owner, your sense of unique freedom continually expands, and you can use each day’s new experiences to learn how to identify your Unique Ability in business and life. This will deepen your unique ownership of your unequal circumstances, allowing you to continually innovate new ways to expand your freedom.

Everyone’s unique “unequality.”

Though the word “unequality” went out of use after the 18th century, I use it here to refer to the objective state of being different (in other words, not equal), as opposed to “inequality,” which I use to refer to conditions deemed to be unjust or unfair. Unequality is a neutral observation. Inequality is a judgment.

Looking at your lifetime from the beginning, you can see that you were born into a world of uniquely unequal circumstances and that your life isn’t comparable to anyone else’s. You’re therefore free to focus on transforming your particular uniqueness. For entrepreneurs, part of this process is learning how to identify your Unique Ability in business. But Unique Ability is only one component of your overall uniqueness, and this uniqueness goes far beyond business.

You can learn from others and you can view other people’s uniqueness as interesting—something with which you can combine your own uniqueness—rather than as inherently better or worse than yours. There’s no judgment or comparison.

As a business owner, you’re focused on transforming your uniqueness, and you want to collaborate with other people and businesses who are transforming their uniqueness. Your attitude is that the more people there are who identify and work with their own uniqueness and Unique Ability, the more people you have to learn from and work with in your business.

Each person has to make their own choice to focus on their uniqueness and Unique Ability, but two people who have made that choice can help each other a great deal.

Choosing to focus on transforming your uniqueness can only be good, and the refusal to do so can only be bad. You can always work on your own uniqueness, turning it into things that are first useful to you, and then useful to other people—which is the key to learning how to identify your Unique Ability in business. The alternative is devoting your time to comparison, envy, and “unfairness,” which will always make you unhappy, and which you’ll never find a solution for. This is a mistake that entrepreneurs make all too often by comparing their business to other, more “successful” businesses when instead they should be focusing on how to make their business more unique and valuable.

Owning your circumstances.

Recognizing that other people’s lives and businesses are uniquely theirs—and that your life and business are uniquely and endlessly yours to transform in ways that expand your sense of unique freedom—gives you a permanent sense of calmness and contentment.

None of what you’re born into was created or designed for you. You recognize that your circumstances are what they are, and you don’t think of them as better or worse than anyone else’s. Like everyone else, you simply have available to you what you have available to you.

The world isn’t going to adjust to you, which means that you have to take responsibility for adjusting to the world. So you use each day’s experience to increase your ownership of your “unequality.” You investigate, you learn, you improve, you learn how to identify your Unique Ability, and you become more useful.

Comparison, unfairness, envy.

There are many business owners who have taken a negative approach to their unequal circumstances. Instead of owning the uniqueness of their business, they obsessively indulge in endlessly-growing envy over their unequal circumstances compared with the “unfair advantages” of other, more successful businesses in their industry.

Their attention is filled up with the news media and social media, which provide a constant stream of negativity, including comparisons, unfairness, and envy. This keeps them from actually looking at their own uniqueness, which in turn keeps them from learning how to identify their Unique Ability and creating anything that’s actually useful to others.

Comparison makes you unhappy, and there’s no end to comparison in the world, if that’s the path you choose. For business owners, comparison will only lead to failure.

No need to compare.

You realize that because your circumstances are uniquely unequal in relation to everyone else’s, you’re free for your entire life to focus on transforming your own uniqueness and Unique Ability.

In other words, your unequal circumstances free you from all comparison.

You grant yourself freedom to focus on your unequal uniqueness, and you can only do that if you also grant everyone else the same freedom.

You take ownership of your uniqueness, you utilize your Unique Ability, and you innovatively create things that are valuable first to you, and then to others. And although you’ll recognize many other individuals doing the same thing, their circumstances, interests, and approaches will be entirely different from yours because all of those things are unique to the individual.

So what you’ll want to do is learn from and collaborate with those other individuals rather than compare what you have or what you’re doing to what they have or what they’re doing.

Check out Dan’s free quarterly book Innovation Over Envy to learn more about why envy leads to a lifetime of unhappiness while uniqueness leads to endlessly enjoyable innovation.

Faster, easier, bigger, and better.

Unequal circumstances are your continual raw material for innovative improvement. You’re always learning how to make your uniqueness bigger and better.

You use each day’s new experience to create new ways of achieving practical and measurable results that come to you in ways that are always faster, easier, bigger, and better.

And because you have no negative feelings about anyone else’s unequal uniqueness, you’ll always be discovering shortcuts that make the valuable progress you create better and faster.

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