"You can either fit in or stand out. Not Both." - Seth Godin
Five years is simultaneously a long and short period of time. I was reminded of this last week when I realized it had been five years since the startling news of the untimely passing of music icon Prince shocked the world. As a fan of music – all music – the report hit me hard. I still recall sitting on an airplane swallowing tears as I read the headline on my phone – and I wasn’t the only one. Not surprisingly, the reaction to his death at 57 was swift and filled with many tributes to remember “His Royal Badness.”
There is no doubt his talent played an enormous part in what made him special. However, more than that was the fact that Prince was unabashedly himself and was comfortable taking risks. Whether he was fighting his record label to be released from an unfair contract or gender-bending well before gender-bending was met with a collective yawn, Prince stood out because he was unafraid to be him. Always. Every time.
Perhaps more than his musical legacy, the greatest gift the artist known as Prince gave the word was that it was cool to have the confidence to be 100% authentically you. Whether you are a musical artist, a marketer, or a salesperson, the unique point of differentiation is being unapologetically you. Some people will get you, and some people won’t – but that’s the point. When you dare to be you, the people who don’t understand you fall by the wayside as you allow yourself to be embraced and encouraged by the ones that do.
Prince was an innovator and left this world way too soon; however, he left a staggering amount of art that will be enjoyed for many generations. Because he had the courage to embrace his differences and break the rules, his art matters today, tomorrow, and beyond. The lesson for all of us: be brave enough to be 100% you every minute of every day.
“A strong spirit transcends rules.” – Prince