The vanilla problem


Vanilla is the dried pod of a rare orchard and the second most expensive spice after saffron due to the huge amount of labour in its production. Vanilla is a truly rich, delicious and subtle spice. Despite its exotic origins, vanilla is a very popular flavour and scent. As a result, vanilla is our usual metaphor for things that are plain, common and ordinary.

I meet a lot of people and organisations who have the ‘vanilla problem’. They have truly exotic skills, unique capabilities and create great value, but they seek to present a common, plain, everyday front to the world. They invest a lot of labour in building their skills but don’t get noticed.  These individuals are competing so hard to fit in and to be like others that they miss the opportunities to stand for something unique.

It can feel safer to take the advice and run with the pack.  However, when you don’t take advantage of your rich difference, you don’t get noticed. You can’t share the other great things that make you uniquely valuable and opportunities are lost.  We don’t love vanilla because it is popular and common.  We love vanilla because it is rich and exotic.

The best way to solve the ‘vanilla problem’ is to start living your unique purpose. Make a dent in the universe. Connect with others who share your point of view. Celebrate the difference of others.  Collaborate with them to realise your goals. Do. Do again.

You can’t tell people that you aren’t vanilla. There’s far too much talk in this world for that to cut through the chatter. You can only show people your difference. Let them feel it.

Celebrate your rich and unique talents in the best way possible. Use them boldy. Use them in pursuit of your purpose.

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