What's your secret sauce and can you bottle it better?

Are you too busy doing what you do – whatever hue your creative profession is - to notice your value?

What's your secret sauce?

Isn’t it often the first thing we say when someone compliments us or comments on something we’re good at or find easy – “oh, it was nothing, I always do it like this” or, “oh, I’ve been doing this for years, it’s just what I do”.

Hmm. This is a magical moment if you listen out for it. What you’re being given in that moment is one of the clues of what one of your special gifts actually is. Your special ‘secret sauce’ if you will.

How does your secret sauce go down with others?

The actual words people say about what it is you’re doing, tells you in that moment, about how they value it. Not about how you value it, but about how they value it and that, dear freelancer, is where the true gift for you is!

Here are a few real-world examples. Each of the ‘secret sauce owners’ effectively become ‘secret sauce sellers’ once influential language and value are inserted around the words akin to ‘hey; it’s simply what I do.’

· A client who pulls multi-million pound building projects together from concept to ‘open day’ on the commercial market. She’s able to understand and grasp the wider intentions and financial targets at the same time as being able to discuss the difference it will make to the bottom line if, say, the windows have 2 locks, instead of three. She can zoom in and out – big picture/minutiae detail is what she “just does”.

· A colleague who can take complicated information with all sorts of techie references and abbreviation. He can then teach other people about it in everyday language they understand, relate to and get excited about, and without them having to be a rocket scientist!

· Another client who started her career as a PA and now heads a department of 10 staff managing corporate risk. “I just know what has to be done and how to make people feel committed.” She’s so organised, personable and instinctively knows what needs to be done – and is able to instigate it – without even really thinking about it. “It’s easy for me; quite simply it’s what I’m meant to do”.

· Me! “Walking into a room full of strangers on my own and engaging in conversation. It’s just what I’ve always done.” Another clue from other people – “oh my goodness, that’s my idea of hell, I could never do that…how do you do that?!”

This is the sort of comment that makes me understand how valuable my own ‘sauce’ is. If a person can’t do what I do, the speaker let on that the person is always going to hang back, miss out on connecting with people, and think that they have to wait to have a chaperone!

It really isso valuable for those of us who struggle with that “it” – (perhaps writing, drawing, engaging others, designing software, programming code); whatever it is!

Be a secret sauce seller, not just an owner

Hopefully you can see how easy it is to just assume what we’re good at, what we do confidently and easily is ‘just what we do’? Well, when you ask yourself a few key questions, this is where you’ll be able to put valuable distinctions around your own gifts. And your gifts are only true gifts, when you – and other people – are able to define and then appreciate them.

Here are 5 questions for you to ask yourself to help unlock your gifts; gifts, it seems; that you might underestimate the value of. Note down your answers to 1, 2 and 3 without thinking about it too much. Then, after reading your responses, ask yourself questions 4 and 5.

  1. “What do people often compliment or comment on when I’m doing what I do?”
  2. “What do I seem to find easy and instinctive and yet other people seem either lost or confused about being able to do this?”
  3. “What is it that I can’t not do?” (hint – this is a ticklish question designed to show you that wherever you are, whatever’s going on, you’re probably involved in and engaging others with that gift of yours – whether they want you to or not!)
  4. “When I think of the value in what I’m able to do, what difference does it make to other people/my business/our clients” – you get the idea here.
  5. “If I stopped doing what I ‘just do’ – what would happen, what would the cost or effect be?”

Your responses to these questions – the exact words you use – will give you big clues as to the ingredients of your secret sauce, its make-up and, identifiably with precision, what it actually is. For you to be valued, to be understood and really be heard day-to-day, having ways to express the value you know that you add is key for you. It’s how you get to stand out from the crowd and then show up and be valued.

Article, reproduced and edited with permission, by Kay White (pictured) , communications expert and mentor at Way Forward Solutions. Kay shows professionals how to get quicker more profitable results and build stronger connections by becoming a more effective, influential and savvy communicator. Kay’s first book, The A to Z of Being Understood is a Number 1 Amazon Bestseller for Customer Service.

 

4th April 2012

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