One of the key principles of the White Hot Center Manifesto is to “be different and make a difference”. The first step in being different is to recognize that you are unique–similar in form but different and distinguished from all others.
To be different and make a difference requires an introspective look at what I’ll call your “core essence”– your unique set of attributes, abilities and special gifts that separates and distinguishes you and your organization from others. Only from your core essence will you be able to be truly different and make a difference in the world.
This idea applies to individuals and organizations alike.
Your core essence is something special used to connect your gifts, talents and value proposition to a need in the marketplace. It is a special something only you and your organizations possess that fulfills your own purpose and provides what the marketplace lacks. You are joined with others because the world sees your essence as the solution.
I remember early in my business career how important it was for me to “fit in” and be perceived by business associates and prospective clients as one of them. So I dressed like them, hung out where they hung out, talked like them, walked like them, joined their organizations, attended their social functions, and generally crafted my whole persona to be “like them”.
I held on tight to the belief my success was based on my ability to fit their mold and conform to the standards of the conventional wisdom. I worked very hard at this for nearly two decades. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I never felt “right” and I never really fit in anywhere.
The truth within.
As a creative entrepreneur leading your destiny, any value you bring to the marketplace is only credible when it reflects the essential truth of your unique, special and compelling gifts. Your core essence is how you add value, and it provides the reason people will follow you, like you, tweet you, trust you, and do business with you. It comes from within you and nowhere else.
The big question is: How do you choose from among all the facets of who you are to truly know (with enduring confidence) what your core essence is?
The search for your core essence is an inner quest to find, and more importantly, to believe in your unique and compelling gifts. Discovering your core essence requires discipline and self-confidence. Without this inner self-wisdom there is no real clarity about where you can best contribute and make a difference in the world. Without this connection to your white hot center you will be adrift from yourself.
Get a shovel and start digging.
Essentially the discovery of your core essence will require some digging on your part. Like an archeological dig, you’ll have to sift through the layers of your beliefs and values looking for the bits and pieces that comprise your special gifts, talents and natural inclinations.
You can start by asking a few basic questions of those close to you, who know you intimately–people who are your raving fans and adore you. Ask them to describe your strengths, talents, and your special qualities. Keep it simple. The result will always be illuminating, clarifying and confidence building.
With that information in hand, you can go a level deeper into your own introspection by asking yourself some simple but probing questions that will call upon you to be decisive about who and what you are. Here’s a list to get your process started:
I am unique because I ...
People know me to be ...
I am good at ...
I feel most fulfilled and satisfied when I am doing ...
What makes me special is my ...
I will not compromise on ...
I am grateful for ...
Take your time with this. You may experience a little writer’s block at first. Allow yourself to be open and honest as you ask yourself these and other questions you may come up with. You can also extend this exercise to your business as well. Discovering your core essence is a decisive act, not a compromise, or a consensus of group think.
When you have the answers to those questions, develop a list of word associations that will best describe your essence. You may find it helpful to settle on the expression of your core essence as a simple description in the form of adjective, adjective, noun. For example, my own core essence is described as follows:
"Creative, visionary leader."
This becomes the lens through which you assess all opportunity that comes your way. Once you discover and live by the character of your core essence, you’ll have the self-guidance and confidence to know what is a good fit for you and why your difference is relevant and highly valued by customers and your world at large. Go ahead give it some thought and please share your comments.
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