Years ago, my friend received a promotion at work. When his promotion was announced, the CEO explained it like this, “He has distinguished himself among his peers, we are promoting him to a new position.”
It was a sentence I have never forgotten. “He has distinguished himself.”
To me, it sounded like one of the greatest compliments anyone could receive: to distinguish yourself among your peers.
Distinguished is a word of respect that we tend to use when speaking in positive terms: a distinguished gentleman, a distinguished career, a distinguished painter.
For many, it conjures up images of a sharply dressed, handsome man. But that is not the definition of the word—nor is that how I defined the compliment.
The definition is much broader: respectable, perceived as a difference in, marked by excellence, set apart.
To stand out as different, in a good way, from everyone else—that is the definition of distinguished.
And that is a description I am drawn to. I hope when people look at my life and how I lived, they will say, “He lived differently than the world around him. He distinguished himself by the way he lived each day.”
This is a description I think we all should strive for.
But how can it be true of yourself?
You certainly don’t need money, a fancy suit, a powerful position, or a role in the public eye to be considered distinguished. My friend didn’t have any of those things. No matter where you are or what you do, you can set yourself apart.
Here are 8 ways to distinguish yourself from the world around you:
1. Be faithful with a little.
With whatever you have been given, be faithful and disciplined with it. With your money, your body, your talents, your education, your upbringing, your opportunity, or your position, be faithful and disciplined to make the most of everything at your disposal.
Not everyone is faithful with the gifts they have been given. Some squander them, still others spend their lives wishing for a different lot. You can distinguish yourself by being faithful with all that you’ve been given or earned.
2. Choose to live differently.
Indeed, to live set apart, is in the very definition of the word distinguished. But this will never become a reality in your life until you choose to live a life different than society.
Following the crowd is what everyone else is doing. And I’m not sure it’s leading to as much joy and fulfillment as people believe. It’s certainly not going to result in a life that stands out from the crowd.
3. Remain focused.
This world is full of distractions from things that matter. These distractions are not just advertisements, social media, and 24-hour breaking news. Many of the pursuits most common to humankind (money, power, fame, possessions) are only distractions from the pursuits in life that are most important.
To distinguish yourself from the crowd, remove trivial distractions today. Keep your attention and life focused on things that matter. And then, do it all again tomorrow.
4. Live humbly.
You can waste a lot of words and energy trying to convince people you are someone important. Instead, put your head down, do good work, and run the race set in front of you.
Not only will you accomplish more along the way, but your humility will also distinguish you from the crowd. It always does.
5. Include others in your growth.
The quickest way to succeed in life is to help someone else succeed in theirs. Unfortunately, most of the world does not live this way. They seek personal success for themselves and often see the world as a competition to get to the top first.
To stand out from the crowd, include others in your growth and success. Share your gifts and talents and accomplishments. Mentor others. Compete less, encourage more.
6. Show grace to others.
Those who routinely extend grace, patience, and kindness to others distinguish themselves in a crowded world. No doubt those who have shown grace and kindness to you stick out in your mind.
To accomplish this, remind yourself often that this world is largely unfair, that people come from a variety of backgrounds, and that nobody is truly self-made… even you. This approach to life always results in humbleness, graciousness, patience, and love.
7. Appreciate different opinions.
While there is nothing wrong with being dogmatic in your beliefs, a healthy appreciation of how others came to theirs is seemingly, an underappreciated quality these days.
By appreciating different opinions, we grow in our understanding of the world and the people around us. And seeking to learn from others, rather than trying to convince them of your opinion, will make you stand out from the crowd today more than ever.
8. Bring optimism into every day.
Greet each day and each person you meet with a smile. Remind yourself each morning that every new day is an opportunity to be your best and make a difference in the life of another. The more you see each day as opportunity, the greater your outlook will be.
And the more optimism you bring into each day, the more that optimism will spill out into the lives of others. Smile more, scowl less. Be noticed for your joy and excitement for life and living your best one.
Live a life that is respectable, different, excellent, and set apart from the world around you. Be distinguished.