People who work in fashion will be quick to advise that everyone should have something that sets them apart. A certain look or accessory that makes them unique. It could be wearing a black mock turtleneck and Levis 501s, like Steve Jobs. Or sporting a unique hairstyle, like Malcolm Gladwell. They say this because each of us are our own brands. And brands need things that make them unique.
But we must be careful not to mistake unique for weird. I find the difference to be that unique doesn't get in the way, whereas weird sometimes serves as a hurdle you can't overcome. (You could be saying the most brilliant thing ever, but if you're adorning a purple velvet sport coat, for instance, as you utter your brilliance all people might remember is that weird purple velvet sport coat.)
I was reminded of the importance of personal uniqueness recently when I came across a picture of Wild Bill Hickok at Hamley & Co. in Pendleton, Oregon. (Which, by the way, is one of the coolest steakhouses and western leather shops one could ever hope to stop off at along a journey.)
The bar at Hamley & Co. and red tin ceiling above
Back to Bill...
Wild Bill Hickok was one of the greatest icons of the old west. A gunfighter, sheriff, scout and gambler, "Wild Bill" is a name that everyone learned when they were young, along with Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. And during the late 1800s he was a legend to be respected.
But one thing in particular to note about Wild Bill, he used the "reverse draw" to draw his weapons. As the photo below shows, you can see how he holstered his revolvers:
What difference did the reverse draw make? Everything. When the rest of the gunfighting world used a standard holster, Bill opted to be unique--with two guns nonetheless. To his opponents, it made him unpredictable... they didn't quite know how to play him. All they knew was, "this guy's good, I'd better be careful." And subsequently, since fame traveled almost exclusively from word-of-mouth in those days, the reverse draw only enhanced the stories.
Was Wild Bill one of the best gunfighers and most influential characters of the Old West? I dunno--he's in contention. But if he never carried that unique reverse draw, how knows if I'd be writing about him today...??
Like Bill, everyone should have something outwardly visible about themselves that's unique. It could be something you wear, a phrase you always say or an accessory you bring around with you. Doing so makes you more memorable, more special and gives the rest of us something extra to enhance our stories about you.