I’ve mentioned my “bad boss” before, right? Well I guess I shouldn’t dislike that person so much, because I keep coming up with things I’ve learned from him.
The one I want to touch on today is the X-Factor. Yes, that is a play on letters because women have one more X-chromosome than our male counterparts. (And yes, I googled that).
ANYWAYS, something that boss told me back then has stuck with me ever since. He often asked me to deliver bad news or ridiculous asks to various constituents (i.e. coaches, interns, cross-campus partners, etc.). When I would ask him why I -- a new employee and often the youngest person in the room -- had to deliver such negative news, he told me that I was being given the task because of my “charm.”
My charm? I knew what he meant. He was referring to my 20-something smile, my friendliness, my tact. There I was, the only woman in the room, delivering the bad news or asking the tough asks because I was “charming.” He could have easily told me that I was being given the task because I was a woman and that I was a cute recent grad and that no one could fault me because I was so nice, blah, blah, blah - but I think he might have gotten fired for that.
At first, I took his words with a grain of salt. This boss was easily my least favorite person in the entire department, so I didn’t appreciate him tasking me with things that he didn’t want to do himself. But after all these years, I’ve come to appreciate his words. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Lesson 1: Everyone has an X-factor.
We learned in first grade that all of us are unique and special, right? Well those things that make us special and different are what I’m calling the X-factor. Each of us has something that sets us apart at work or in life. Whether it’s your charm, your time-management skills, your quick-thinking, or your creativity, we all have some sort of X-factor as part of our repertoire.
Lesson 2: Use your X-factor to your (positive) advantage.
My “bad boss” wanted me to use my X-factor for evil, but I’ve learned to use it for good. I would never say I’m “charming,” as I find that a bit pretentious, but I do often classify myself as “smiley,” or “overly nice.” Regardless, I’ve learned to use my personality to build positive relationships in the workplace as well as in life. If your X-factor is your creativity, then you have an opportunity to be the person that everyone goes to when they need a brainstorming session. Whatever your X-factor is, it is special and unique to you and it is probably a large part of who you are. Use it.
This all might seem a bit silly, but there is merit to using your unique characteristics or abilities to set yourself apart. We are all different and bring so many things to the table, so it’s important to embrace these aspects of ourselves. Why fit in when you were born to stand out?