Years ago at a conference, a speaker said eight words that made such an impact on me that I still have them taped to my office wall:
You are something specific to a special few.
His point was that having clarity—about yourself, your ikigai, and your intended audiences—was the key to success.
The same principle applies when you're trying to make a significant career change. Let's break down that statement:
Clarity begins with your ability to answer a simple question: “What do I want?”
Though simple, that question isn’t easy for most to answer. Some wrestle with insecurities and fears about coming to grips with their true desires; others have never pushed the pause button on their busy lives to give themselves space to do so.
It takes thoughtful introspection, and sometimes, a reality check: do you really want (fill in the blank) and are you willing to do what it takes to achieve it? Make sure that your reply isn't merely a grass-is-always-greener scenario, but a genuine desire for which you're willing to work.
It’s likely that your answer will be different from your friends’ or co-workers’, and that’s okay: this is about being crystal clear with what is of the utmost importance to YOU.
...Are Something Specific...
Clarity demands specificity: there is no room for a wishy-washy answer.
For instance, it's not enough to say that you want to "work with people." Instead, dig deeper to figure out what elements of working with people you most enjoy. Would you rather work with high school students or senior executives? Do you like to interact with people one-on-one or as part of a larger team? Would you prefer a stable company environment or a fast-paced start-up?
The more focused you can be about what matters most to you, the better.
...To A Special Few
Once you figure out what you want, you need to be able to explain it to others—those "special few" who can help you.
Most people are willing to assist you if you're clear on your ask: can they make an introduction to a colleague in your desired field? Provide intel on a prospective company? If you’re fuzzy about what you want, you’ll confuse them and spin your wheels.
Your "special few" also includes those who might hire you, so being able to articulate what you want is crucial to achieving it.
For instance, on social media sites like LinkedIn, that means paring down all the extraneous information from your profile (yes, really—edit away!) to highlight what matters most, aligning your experience to support your desires, and consistently creating or sharing content related to those things that matter most to you. You need to say what you want, not what you do.
It also means viewing your profile through the lens of your intended audiences. If a potential employer, client or partner were to read it, would they immediately understand how you were uniquely qualified and positioned to help them get what they want? Doing so makes it easier for others to see your value.
Remember, your aim is not to try to be all things to all people, but to be something specific to a special few—including yourself.
And clarity is the key to achieving it.
To gain clarity, join our Who Am I program.