To be remarkable is a complement of the highest order. To be worthy of a remark. To do something so outlandish, so extraordinary, to create something so unique people cannot help but talk about it. They must go out there and share what you are doing. To have it be on the forefront of their minds that given whatever situation or conversation they are thrown into, they must talk about you. That is what it means to be remarkable.
How do we become remarkable? There are two paths on the road to being remarkable. Much like the paths to heaven and hell, one path is much easier than the other. To be worthy of a remark, we can go the easy route. We can bring home the drug dealing boyfriend, we can steal a car, we can be bad. We can be gossiped about. Have you seen the news? It is all remarks about what is bad in the world. It elevates people’s emotions and so they tune in.
The harder path to take is to work for your remark. To climb the ladder and create something that people cannot resist sharing. Something that has effected them and by sharing it they hope it affects others. To do that, you have to exceed expectations. Not only go above and beyond, but do so in a unique way. A way they never thought of before. A way that is unique to you, they refer to you by name. Easier said than done.
How do we become remarkable? To use a term coined by Seth Godin, we have to find our Purple Cow. The first time we drive by a pasture, we might turn our head and say, “Look! Cows!” But if we continue to drive by that pasture every day, we become numb to them. The cows become part of the background. But if one day you drive by and one of the cows is purple, you won’t only point it out, you’ll pull over, take a picture, and share it with anyone and everyone. You’ve never seen anything like that before in your life! It is remarkable. It is worth sharing. Now picture each cow in that imaginary pasture as individuals or businesses in whatever industry or circumstance that you are trying to stand out in. You have to bring your purple cow.
So how do you find your purple cow? How do you find what makes you remarkable? You might be surprised where your purple cow is hiding. To use the pasture example again, we can think of the pasture as your life and each cow in the pasture as a personal attribute. A vast majority of your cows are plain and boring, just like everyone else’s. But a few of them might have a hint of purple. And you might need to breed a few of those cows together to get one that is truly purple, truly remarkable.
It might be tough to find your purple hued cows. The gene that makes them purple might be recessive. You have to do some sincere self-reflection to locate those traits within you that have the potential to be remarkable. I’ll use myself as an example. I am very anal-retentive. I obsess about the details. I like to know everything that goes into something. Anyone who has ever cooked with me knows I’m looking over their shoulder. I want everything to be perfect. This is usually seen as a negative trait. On the other hand, I am also philosophical. I enjoy thinking about the big picture. Both of these traits are the parents of my purple cow. My purple cow is being analytical about the big picture. I like to figure out what the end goal is, dissect the parts to get me there, and analyze everything along the way. Tweaking as necessary.
I’m not the only one that knows about the purple cow, and now you know too. So what if everyone brings their purple cow to pasture? How can anyone be remarkable if we all are? The beauty of it is all of our remarkable features are unique to the individual. No one has lived your life and experienced what you have experienced. That accumulation has created a unique individual. Now you only have to find what has made you remarkable in all that. Because we all are already remarkable. The hardest part is finding those features and sharing them.
What is the point in discovering what makes you remarkable? If we are at a pivotal point in our lives, people think we have to change what we’re currently doing. Shift to something new. Mid-life crises exist because people realize they want something vastly different from what they have. To make that pivot a meaningful one, we shouldn’t look for something new. We should double down on what we are the best at or what brings us the most joy, if the two are mutually exclusive. We have to find out what makes us remarkable and pursue a life centered around that. Being analytically philosophical could be applied to almost any field. I just have to make sure that I can apply that feature in the field I’m in. You can do the same with what makes you remarkable.
There is an element of uncertainty though. The remark that people make about us is out of our hands. I doubt anyone I’ve ever met has told someone else how analytically philosophical I am. What makes my purple cow the color purple is that I am analytically philosophical. But the remark is about the color itself, not its composition. The purple cow is my work. It is what I present and share with others. How I conduct that work is what the remark will be about. Now that we have that base level, we can narrow what our remark will be. What do you want the remark people make about you to be?