I once asked world-famous DJ Z-Trip how he discovered his voice as an artist, and he used the analogy of a tree. He said that when he began his career, he—like everyone else—was climbing the trunk of the tree because it is the safest and most stable part. However, as he began to progress in his career, he began to step out onto branches that took him farther away from the trunk, or what was expected. His DJ peers won- dered what he was doing, because he was taking risks with his work that separated him from the pack and could result in failure or rejection by the industry. However, Z-Trip said that as he began to venture out onto new branches, he became so unique from other DJs that he began to carve his own space in the market, defined by his own voice. People were coming to him for the unique thing that only he could do.
So much of the process of discovering the unique value you offer is in choosing to step out onto one branch at a time, separating yourself a little bit from the predictability and stability of the trunk. Over time, you define your own space until soon you are sitting all alone out at the end of a winding branch.
To develop a unique voice, you must venture away from security and what’s expected. However, it’s best to do it one small decision at a time.
What “branch” can you step out onto to separate you from the pack?