How to Be a Purple Squirrel

You may be asking yourself, “What in the world is a purple squirrel, and why would I want to be one?” Purple squirrel is a term coined by recruiters to describe sought-after candidates with the perfect, but often impossible, combination of skills and traits for a given job. 

How would you like to be the first person that leaders think of when a promotional opportunity presents itself? Or the person that others think of when considering who is a great teammate? I want to help you fit those descriptions by being a purple squirrel and maximizing your potential, so let’s look at seven things you can do to that end. 

Be Trustworthy

To be trustworthy, you need to:

  • Show respect – Treat others in a way that shows you care about their well-being and consider them a person of worth. 
  • Be authentic – This means living your life according to your own values and goals, rather than those of other people. 
  • Demonstrate integrity – C.S. Lewis defines integrity as doing the right thing for the right reason, even when no one is looking. 
  • Extend trust to others – This involves giving others the benefit of the doubt and trusting them. 
Be a Team Player

According to Patrick Lencioni, the ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart. Let’s explore these traits in more detail:

  • Humble – People who are humble have a lack of excessive ego or concerns about status, and they put others before themselves. 
  • Hungry – People who are hungry are always looking for more to do, to learn and new things to take on. They don’t have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. 
  • Smart – This definition is a little different than you might think. It involves having common sense about people by asking good questions, listening well and engaging effectively with others. 
Leverage Your Strengths

Did you know that if you work more in your areas of strength, you will be much happier, more successful and productive? The first step is to discover what your strengths are! You can do this by taking assessments such as the Working Genius or Clifton Strengths; doing some self-reflection; and/or asking trusted friends or colleagues for feedback. Once you have identified your strengths, figure out how you can best apply them at work and in your life.

Exude Positive Energy

Have you noticed that we, as humans, tend to go negative? It is called the negativity bias, and it was instilled in us to keep us safe. As a result, we have to work extra hard to be positive! Below are some things that you can do to exude positive energy:

  • Avoid complaining
  • Smile more 
  • Avoid energy vampires – other people that suck the energy out of you and leave you feeling depleted
  • Practice gratitude
  • Reset or adjust your attitude
  • Celebrate your successes
Be a Learner

Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” To be a purple squirrel, you must continuously seek out learning opportunities. In addition, you must be willing to be coachable and accept constructive feedback. 

Show You Care

It just makes sense that to be your best, you need to care for yourself by eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, managing your stress and showing some self-compassion. You can care for others by demonstrating empathy, listening to them, showing appreciation and simply being kind. 

Articulate Your Vision

Your vision is a clear picture of who you want to be and what you want to do in the future. When articulating your career vision, you should consider your strengths, values, skills, lifestyle, family and what you enjoy doing. 

To write your vision, (1) State the field you want to work in or the specific job you want to have, and (2) Explain your reason for setting the career goal in your first sentence. 

This is a very high-level overview as I tried to smash a whole workshop into one article. But, I hope it will help to provide some food for thought on how you can be your best at work and elevate your potential. 


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