The year is 2000 and the date is April 16th. The place is Madison Square Gardens in New York City and the event is the NFL draft.
The Kansas City Chiefs, my hometown football team, just drafted a player out of Texas A&M named Dante Hall. Although Hall had the 2nd most ever all-purpose yards for the Aggies, I was not convinced he could be successful in the NFL. I felt his size at 5’8” and 175 pounds would be too much of a liability.
Clearly, I could not have been more wrong. Today, Dante Hall is considered one of the best return specialists in NFL history. In fact, in a 2002 game against the New York Jets, Hall returned two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns, tying a first in Chiefs’ history.
Hall gave the Chiefs an edge and became such a weapon that he was nicknamed the X-Factor. In fact, every time Hall went on the field to return a kickoff or a punt all the Chiefs fans would whip themselves into a frenzy and cross their arms in an “X” signifying their hope that the X-Factor would run the kick back for a touchdown.
Their X-Factor was a difference maker.
Your X-Factor is a difference maker, too.
What is an X-Factor?
Your X-Factor is an unconventional quality or trait that provides you with an edge.
Many times, our X-Factor is masked in a perceived weakness. We all have an X-Factor. Most of us just haven’t uncovered it yet.
Dante Hall’s size limited his ability to be successful as a running back or even as a receiver. However, he found that his size became an asset when he was in the open field returning kick offs.
Make a list of your perceived weaknesses. Now write a statement about how that perceived weakness could be a strength. Don’t be afraid to talk with those around you. I have found the following statement to be true of myself as well as those I coach.
“No matter what our achievements might be, we think well of ourselves only in rare moments. We need people to bear witness against our inner judge, who keeps book on our shortcomings and transgressions. We need people to convince us that we are not as bad as we think we are.”
~ Eric Hoffer
Identifying Your X-Factor
Your X-Factor lies at the intersection of your strengths, your mission and the needs of your target market. Remember that an X-Factor is unconventional. It’s unique to you. If you try to copy others, you will never stand out!
Remember, your unconventional strengths may be hidden in what you perceive as your weaknesses.
For example, I found my fear of speaking, a perceived weakness, has enabled me to connect with audiences. See, many others share a similar fear.
Many of my past failures, which I thought defined me, have taught me lessons that are helping me relate to my clients in a way that builds rapport and helps me lead them.
I have found my high-energy, connecting skills and ability to tie my work to financial results has enabled me to differentiate myself from my competitors.
I have also found that the more confidence I gain in my unique strengths the more willing I am to own my uniqueness and not compare myself to others.
What perceived weakness, failure or unique ability could be your X-Factor?
Companies have mission statements. Departments have mission statements. People can also have mission statements. Crafting a personal mission statement can help you identify your X-Factor.
To find your mission I recommend you focus in three distinct areas:
What work gives you the most energy?
For me there is absolutely nothing more fulfilling than seeing someone achieve something that they thought was previously unachievable.
For Dante Hall, it was running in the open field.
What is it for you? You might get your energy from working with people. You might get your energy focusing on tasks or solving complex problems. You might get your energy crunching the numbers.
Why does your work matter?
We all have a need to survive, develop relationships, be respected. However, true fulfillment comes when our accomplishments are part of a bigger cause and serve others.
I have found answering the “5 Why’s” to be an excellent process to uncover why your work matters. Try it yourself. Take a minute and answer the 5 Why’s and see what you uncover:
– Why does your work matter?
– Why is that important?
– Why does that matter?
– Why is that important?
– Why does that matter?
Challenge yourself to think of a deeper purpose and a deeper meaning for your work with each question.
What did you learn?
What legacy will you leave?
When you are gone, your life will be summed in a few words. Why not pick them now?
We must fight against the short-term reaction to the stimuli in our lives. We have a natural bias towards being self-centered and focused on immediate gratification.
Take a minute and contemplate your legacy. What will others say when you are gone?
Write down what comes to mind and commit to doing your best to live this best version of yourself. This process can create a true north that will pull you towards the best version of you and help you overcome the fears that keep you from reaching your true potential.
Review your answers to these three questions and then write out your mission.
My personal mission is to help others become more so they can achieve more so they can give more. This mission inspires and energizes me.
Consider Client Needs
The last step to identifying your X-Factor is to consider your clients functional, emotional and altruistic needs.
Which needs are you best at fulfilling?
For example, I believe my clients most often want to become more successful and they want to make a bigger contribution towards others. Since there is nothing I enjoy more than helping people succeed, the needs of my potential clients fit nicely with my gifts and my mission.
Dante’s fans wanted to win. Being a part of a group that is winning is one of the most passionate emotions sports fans crave to experience. That is why when a team is winning their fans seem to come out of the woodwork. If you’ve been to a sporting event, you have undoubtedly experienced the euphoria when your team wins and the despair when they lose. The needs of Dante’s fans fit perfect with his gifts and his passions.
When you can meet your client’s most important needs in a unique way, you create die-hard fan clients and your value goes up dramatically.
The Benefits of Identifying Your X-Factor
When you know your X-Factor, you can pre-frame your strengths.
Pre-framing sets up in advance what you want someone to focus on and notice in a conversation or experience.
Throughout his career, Dante pre-framed coaches and scouts on what he could do in the open field because he did not want them focused on situations where his size was a liability.
We all have strengths and we all have liabilities. We will achieve more and make a bigger impact if we leverage our strengths and minimize the impact of our weaknesses.
My X-Factor is my ability to connect and relate with people while having fun.
In the past, I focused on what I perceived I did not have. I focused on other people’s strengths that I believed were more valuable than my strengths.
Today I focus on my X-Factor and authentically being the best version of me.
What is your X-Factor? If you’re ready to find out, use our X-Factor worksheet to get started!
Determining your personal and corporate X-Factor is a critical part of creating die-hard fans. Learn more about die-hard fans in our free eBook, Loyalty Isn’t Luck.