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What do passive voice and creaming together butter and sugar have in common?
Some people understand it, some people don’t.
The key question is: when you know how to do something well, do you realize how many other people do NOT understand that same thing in the same way?
This is your unfair advantage. This — this skill or background or even mindset — is what can catapult you to success.
Take the butter and sugar example. There’s a woman in a blogging group I belong to who’s an excellent cook and offers cooking tips. Her struggle, at times, is in not realizing that what’s basic for her is not obvious to others.
Last week, someone joked that they had made banana bread and had to look up instructions for how to cream butter and sugar together. This bewildered the cook. But it made perfect sense to me and to a lot of others in the group.
Do you cream the butter first and then add the sugar? Dump them both in the bowl at the same time? Room temperature or cold? Cut up the butter or throw in the entire stick? What speed on the mixer?
Someone told this blogger that she can create an opt-in of common terms in cooking and baking. Others told her she could create products and videos related to any number of basics and how-to’s. I pointed out that I have to look up a recipe anytime I make hard-boiled eggs (true story).
Nothing is too basic, I said.
Think about that for yourself. What is basic to you that may not be basic to others? How can you use that information to advance your business or other area of your life?
That blogger can use her knowledge and experience in so many ways in her business, once she fully figures out how to exploit it. And I mean exploit in a good way – using it to build her business and to serve others. Her expertise in the kitchen, and her ease with it, is one of her unfair advantages.
What do you find easy?
Think about the things you consider easy. What do they include? I promise you, someone else has no idea how to do it, or they can’t do it as well as you can.
Or maybe it’s not something easy per se, but something you have expertise in because you studied it or have worked at it for years. We tend to forget how we toiled to learn our craft or even our hobbies. We only see the end result.We tend to forget how we toiled to learn our craft or even our hobbies. We only see the end result.Click To Tweet
Admission: Writing can be like that for me.
I’ve written professionally for more than 20 years, and I earned a degree in English. A lot of what I do is habit now, which means it’s automated. If I step back and look at it, I have to think hard about HOW I do it, exactly.
And even then? I sometimes have trouble believing anyone would find my insights valuable. I think this one’s multi-faceted — from a simple self-esteem challenge to a glossing-over of all of the years I worked on hundreds of details related to writing, to the inherent snarkiness of the profession.
I love the majority of my fellow writers. But there are a good portion who sneer at those of us who use a looser style and flaunt the rules of grammar. Unfortunately, I often picture them when I publish something. They roll their eyes and take a red pen to my prose. They laugh and talk crap about me. I’m pretty sure they call me fat and ugly, too. Because, you know, we like to put our insecurities on steroids.
But they are wrong.
I understand this craft, and my knowledge can help others. That’s an unfair advantage.
Last week, I released my ebook/workbook package, The Kick-Ass, Slightly Irreverent, No Rules Guide To Writing Well.
If we aren’t careful, we can expect crickets for unveilings like this, amiright? Or generic congratulations. Or sarcasm and eye rolls.
What I received instead left me humbled and overwhelmed. People loved it. They thought it was a great read. And it HELPED.
They liked me. They really liked me. (Sally Field reference for those old enough to remember.)
And then a woman commented on a blog post I wrote about forgiveness, mentioning my free ebook, 21 Tips To Energize Your Writing (since updated to “19 Easy Ways to Write Better).
How flippin’ cool is that??
And what an eye-opener! She was the second person to mention recently that passive voice finally made sense to her.
The kicker? I didn’t even think I explained it all that well.
That’s the mindset we need to overcome — questioning our credentials and our ability to use them. You DO have credentials.
Mindset as Unfair Advantage
Unfair advantage isn’t always a technical skill. It can be our tenacity or our optimism or our empathy.
I will claim all three of those as unfair advantages in my personal as well as professional life.
Tenacity. I will grab hold of a challenge, jaws clenched, until I’ve figured it out or have decided to let it go. (Letting go does not necessarily equal defeat, by the way.) As a reporter, I would dig deeper than my competition and focus longer. In my personal life, I have made it through some really difficult stages by what feels like sheer willpower sometimes.
Optimism and empathy. I don’t skip through life blissfully ignorant of its hardships, but I have always managed to believe it will turn around and that I will find the positive. That’s optimism to me. Part of it is realizing that even in the midst of my worst times, I’ve gained something, typically empathy. And empathy is one of the most powerful tools we have to connect to others.
What else can you find? I challenge you to shine a light on your skills, your experiences, and your general mindset to find your unfair advantages. Define them and think about how you can use them.
I don’t care if it’s folding laundry – people need to know how to do that. (Seriously. You could go viral making a video about how to fold a fitted sheet and then capitalize off of that.) Maybe you can change your own oil or tie knots or hem pants or stack coupons for massive savings.
I don’t know how to do any of those things. And neither do a lot of other people.
Maybe you have a wicked sense of humor. Or are great at explaining things in a step-by-step way. Or you have infinite patience. Or you keep calm when others panic.
These are all things you can use to your advantage personally and/or professionally.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What have you identified as your unfair advantages? What did you know about already, and what did you uncover as you studied it? Leave a comment below!
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