Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Are you different or unique?


Different is not the same as unique.

The word different is defined as "unlike" or "unusual," and it comes from the Latin differre, or "to set apart, differ."

Now, the word unique means something...well...different. (Ha ha.) It's defined as "the only one," and comes from the Latin unicus, or "single, sole." And according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word unique also evolved to mean "remarkable or uncommon."

This reminds me of what Tom Robbins (my favorite fiction author) said about the word unique in his novel Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.

"The popular usage of this word annoying in the extreme. In essence, popular culture has co-opted the word 'unique' to be used as a hyped-up version of 'unusual,' a usage that is, in fact, thoroughly at odds with the word's actual meaning. Unique is unique. Period. Never 'more unique' or 'most unique.' Just, 'unique.' As in one-of-a-kind, without compare, entirely original, etc. Something is either unique, or it is not. Uniqueness is not a measurable quantity that a thing can have more or less of than some other thing. There are no degrees of uniqueness. It's a binary characteristic -- for a given object/person/idea/whatever, it is either true or false exclusively."

When I facilitate workshops with businesspeople and especially youth, I spend a good chunk of time focusing on these ideas. And it's amazing to hear people's answers to this question:

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

Why are you unique?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com