“You’re Not Special.”

This week I’d like to pay homage to American high school teacher, David McCullough Jr., and his recent commencement speech to the graduating class of Wellesley High School. The very premise upon which his speech was based was the notion that nobody, anywhere, is special.

If nobody is “special”, how do you stand out amongst a pool of potential employers? Amongst your graduating class? How do you prove that you are, in fact, worthy of achieving your goals in life?

As Kristine Simpson pointed out a few weeks ago, personal branding is one of the keys to having a successful position in the public relations field. Making a home in the world of PR requires you to make a name for yourself through hard work, determination, and persistence.

From my own experience throughout my post-secondary career, my generation (and debatably the younger generation even more so) doesn’t want to work hard to reach their goals. We’ve been taught that once the baby boomers retire, employers will be fighting fist to cuffs for college and university graduates. Au contraire! The only way those organizations will be fighting to have you is if you WORK HARD and differentiate yourself from your ‘competition’.

To quote Mr. McCullough, you must “be worthy of your advantages.” And as many of our grandparents have said, “I used to walk to school every morning- uphill- both ways.” Nothing in life is easy. I’ve always believed that if you think you’re working hard, work harder.

I suppose the moral of my story here is this: telling yourself that you are special, or distinct, or unique to everyone else is not enough – perhaps even untrue. Instead, work on your personal brand; decide how you want the world to see you. Image can be everything. Find your own strengths and flaunt them. Differentiating yourself from others may not prove that you are special, but it will say, “hey world, look at me, watch what I am capable of doing.”

This is important to remember, not only in an industry focused on human interaction such as PR, but in every field.

To leave with another of Mr. McCullough’s thoughts, “the fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement. Not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person, or mommy ordered it from the caterer.”

Until next time!



About davegauthier

I am a student of the public relations program at Algonquin college.
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