Being in the crowd of ONE

When you begin your career, typically there are many people who can (almost) do the same thing that you can do. As you progress in your career, the classic attraction (may be because of the “social proof” that exists) is to again join groups of people that go after popular and relevant stuff.

Problem is – most of the time, popular and relevant stuff has a short shelf-life.

Typical growth path

For most people, the career progression means growing along with the crowd. Chasing what is popular – meaning following the crowd and just being a bit better than the average. As you can see, the the less deviation you have from the crowd, lesser the premium. If you are in the typical growth path, then you are one among the crowd that brings a valuable offer that is relevant to the current marketplace – but not different enough for the marketplace to distinguish you. Since the marketplace can’t distinguish you enough, there is no reason for the marketplace to place a premium on what you bring to the table. Besides, if you go away from the marketplace, there are enough people out there who are offering the same thing you are offering.

Ideal growth path

The better career progression is where you start off being one among the crowd offering something valuable to the marketplace. However, as time progresses, you start distinguishing yourself from the crowd – but always being relevant and continuing to offer something valuable to the marketplace. As you can see, when you have deviated sufficiently from the crowd, your premium soars. In fact, your ultimate goal (from a career perspective) will be to be in the crowd of ONE – where you are offering something valuable and in parallel – significantly distinguishing yourself from others in the race.

Wish you a wonderful week ahead.