If you’ve ever seen a zebra in the zoo you might mistakenly believe that the only difference between zebras and horses is that one has stripes and the other doesn’t. I admit this was my own misperception. Having now had the experience of participating in a South African photo safari, seeing zebras in the wild, and learning from those knowledgeable about zebras, I now realize how very wrong I was. Zebras are fascinating creatures, with some unusual characteristics.

For example, each zebra has a black stripe running down its backside, right under the tail. The thicker black stripe belongs to the female (where those baby zebras come from). Male zebras have a thinner stripe, referred to by our tour guide as the “male g-string.” The health of a zebra can be quickly ascertained by examining their manes from a distance. Unlike horses, zebras have very short manes; almost a Mohawk. If the mane is standing straight up, then the zebra is healthy. But a droopy mane indicates a health issue.

While most believe zebras are black and white, the reality is a bit different. It depends on the species, of which there are several. One species is pure white and black, but another is black and a dirty white, almost muddy looking. And, unlike my childhood belief that zebras just have stripes, what I have learned is that zebras have a pattern of stripes and spots. When combined with their coloring, zebras can  blend into the grasses and surrounding vegetation, making them less likely as a target for carnivorous predators. They also have a powerful back leg kick that, when strategically deployed, can fell even the fiercest of lions.

We dazzle others, and ourselves, when we are clear about our uniqueness. #ClearPathForward #dreamlife Click To Tweet

Zebras travel in herds, referred to as a “dazzle of zebras,” but each zebra is unique and special. It’s the pattern of stripes and spots that create this uniqueness. So when you come upon a dazzle of zebras, thinking they all blend together, look closely and you’ll soon realize that each one can be identified from its companions. While Zebras may not intellectually know what distinguishes them, as humans we must be clear what is unique and special about our particular pattern of stripes and spots.

Unlike living in the wild, where it pays to operate in a herd mentality, we live in a society that rewards our individuality. We dazzle others, and ourselves, when we are clear about our uniqueness, can articulate it clearly to others, and design and lead our lives with a focus on them. So what comprises our uniqueness? Like the zebra it’s a combination of multiple factors: skills, knowledge, experience, personalities, passions and dreams.

Relying on one or even a combination of a few does not tap into your unique and full range of pattern. For example, let me introduce you to Mary. She has a lens that looks at the world from a numbers perspective –  can remember the phone number from a house she lived in 15 years ago, is highly organized, and has experience in the field of finance. Based on this description you would think Mary would be happy working in a bank or other finance-oriented field. However, Mary has a secret passion. She adores working with children. And while she toiled for many years in a well respected bank, Mary was thrilled when she left her job to work for a child care agency.

Knowing that you are living an unfulfilled life, one that doesn’t put your unique pattern of gifts front and center, is one of the saddest commentaries on human existence. There is hope however, available to each and every person. You have control over the life you want to live. Take the time to discover your unique pattern. If you are uncertain, talk with a close friend or work with a third-party to unearth your singularity. Then design your life, ensuring it is joy-filled, purpose-driven, and abundant.

ACTION: Don’t waste another minute. Clarify your unique zebra pattern and ascertain whether you are living a life that places them front and center.

Kathy Hart’s driving passion is human change and transformation. Her goal is to provide professional women in midlife (ages 40 – 65) with the support and resources needed to re-imagine and lead even more abundant, joy-filled and purpose-driven lives. If you are a woman wanting to reclaim your voice, realize a long-held dream, or just live your life to the fullest, take concrete action by contacting Kathy at kathy@clearvisionconsult.com. The choice is yours!

Services that Kathy offers:

  • 1:1 coaching to support the next journey into your midlife transition
  • Trusted advisor for leaders navigating work changes and requiring an expert guide
  • Speaking and workshops on human change and transformation
  • Small group work and team development to boost the group’s performance