Embrace the Martian: Your Quirks Are a Competitive Advantage
What if I told you there was a 30 for 30 style documentary about a guy that loves working in pitch black darkness and during graveyard shift hours, but somehow has only had one cup of coffee his entirely life?
You’d probably assume that doc was about some sort of oddball serial killer, but, nah, that “guy” is me.
Why am I sharing my weirdness with you all? Because although these quirks sometimes make fitting into “standard” office environments a challenge for me, they also augment the unique things I bring to the table.
Hear me out.
Because I’m not a slave to java, I don’t spend a good chunk of my day huddled around an espresso machine or taking multiple coffee breaks. When I get rolling, I get ROLLING, so me not getting invited to team coffee outings helps me stay focused during my time at the office.
Because I’m more productive during non business hours, I can accommodate any needs our international offices in timely fashion, at least from their perspective. And because I’m already used to producing outside of the standard 9-5 work day, adjusting to times of chaos and “optional” after hours work sessions is a breeze.
The pitch black thing? Yeah, I got nothing for you there, but the general point still stands: Leaning into your eccentricities is a good thing when they contribute to the unique value you bring to your workplace.
Embracing your inner Martian can also benefit you on a larger scale as well.
If you’re a minority of any kind, your skin deep differences paired with your legit work experience could make you an attractive candidate for companies trying to break up a homogeneous workforce in order to drive innovation and, most importantly, increased profits.
Have zero connections because you just relocated to a new city? No problem. All things equal, I’d rather bring a new talent on board that’s experienced things beyond the local bubble, especially if I’m really set on innovating and breaking groupthink with my team. When I moved back to Nebraska after living in Denver for six years, I actually found playing the “outsider” card effective as employers didn’t see me as an area retread.
Your unique interests can also help your organization take a fresh look at common problems. For example, you may be the only one that consumes a certain type of content, but think about what draws people to that form of media or entertainment and try to apply it to the challenges you’re tasked with overcoming. You’ll often find your perspective will kick start ideas that weren’t even on the radar prior to your input.
tl;dr Don’t be afraid to do YOU. Your “oddities” are what set you apart from the noise.
The crazy thing about all this though? If you’re comfortable in your own skin, your quirks aren’t really quirks at all. They’re simply components of your brand and your unique voice. And it in a world full of clutter, the only way you can stand out is by shining a light on your idiosyncrasies.