Time to stand out from the crowd?

West coast 2013 102I love this picture. On a recent visit to Seattle we took a harbour cruise.  The boat was chugging along nicely and suddenly we became aware that we had stopped and the engines had gone quiet. After a few minutes the tour guide told us to look out of the window and this is what we saw. If you can’t see from the picture there are maybe as many as 15 sea lions all lying on that one buoy. The guide explained that on the beach that these guys would really like to hang out on a “top dog” sea lion has marked his territory and made it his own. The others had to move on – and this is where they ended up . Their own space. I cannot for the life of me understand why they all need to be there. Maybe they hope that Top Dog will become so exhausted from spending so much time with so many of the “ladies” that he will call for reinforcements and they want to be nearby just in case!

It strikes me that the lesson from those sea lions – who are lying around in a heap waiting for their moment – is one that we could learn from.

What happens if  we hang about with others who are in the same position as us?

Let’s take a look at the positives (and starting with the positives is always a good idea)

We could learn from each other, maybe develop some ideas together  and collaborate on taking those forward.  If you think about online groups you might be a member of these are often for people similar to you – with similar interests, backgrounds, qualifications . Spending time with people just like you – or who you think might be – can be a great way to understand and value our own unique skills and talents.

When a group of fellow coaches and I got together originally and created the Edinburgh Coaching Hub LinkedIn Group some folk who were outside of that questioned the sense of sharing things with our competitors and at that stage I could see their point but nothing ventured…After a while I realised that not only were no two coaches the same but also so many of those I met knew different things from me . When we shared we learned more which had the potential to enhance what we had to offer the market  – and each other.

Maybe the sea lions are actually plotting how they are going to retake the beach. Their lying about lazily act is a cover what is really going on?

But the downside is..

If you only hang out with people like you then what opportunities might you miss?  Unless you have some outside influences or experiences  you are unlikely to notice what else you could be doing.  It might feel comfortable – or even safe – to be with people who know what you know, who speak the same language ( jargon?) as you, who have the same in- jokes – but that sort of exclusivity can be seen as a barrier to outsiders. If those outsiders might have a job you would be great for or would like to see how your services could enhance their business how daunting is it for them to break into your group?  How would they even know you were there for that matter.

Or the sea lions have left no space for any newcomers so the next one to come along maybe has to fight to get onboard and tip another off. They will need to watch their back when they take some time to go into the water to catch some food….or starve…

OK- nobody would behave like the sea lions in the photo and hang onto that their own small scrap of space on the buoy until that opportunity happened along their way and  bumped into them would they?

Would they?

If you would like to explore how to differentiate yourself from your crowd why not take a look at what my Speak Up for Yourself  sessions could offer?