WHAT YOU DO IS NOT WHO YOU ARE
I would like you to ask yourself a question- 'Who am I?'
Confused? Let me explain. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about identity. So let's get started.
How you define yourself?
• By your beliefs and opinions?
• By profession: doctor, artist, engineer, manager?
• By what others think about you
• Or is this something you figure out over a period of time?
Defining who you are for yourself is a journey of personal evolution, growth and development. If you create your identity based on the opinion of other people, then you might not know who you really are.
No one else knows your plan or purpose in life, no one else understands you completely; your history, your past, because no one else has walked a lifetime in your shoes. Understanding who you are on an identity level is probably going to be a lifetime process.
Most people operate out of fixed mindset, ‘This is who I am. This is why I am the way I am- because few experiences that happened, I am- how I feel, I am- the way I behave, I am- what I believe. But you cannot afford to adopt this mental outlook towards life and yourself , that is too limiting by nature. It's a very narrow way of thinking about yourself.
I would like to highlight on a simple way by which you can define yourself on an identity level that will set you free to grow & develop exponentially. There are 3 levels on which you can define yourself:
1. What you do
These are things you do in terms of activities, profession etc. For example, you may be a student, a banker etc. This is an important aspect of your life, but it cannot be the fundamental basis of your identity, because when challenges arise in studies or your profession, you may begin to doubt yourself and lose confidence.
2. How you are
These consist of life experiences, fundamental behaviours, attitude, preferences, etc. For instance, you may consider yourself to be a good friend or a patient person or someone who likes to eat different types of food.
Again, this is an important aspect of your life. But you cannot let this completely define you. You may have a fight with your friend, or you may get angry due to stress or circumstances beyond your control. Or you may have to start eating healthier food on a doctor's advice! This may lead you to question your preferences or behaviours.
If you have defined yourself only based on ‘WHAT’ and 'HOW' category → You are limiting yourself.
What you do and how you feel will always change, based on how you grow. Change is the only constant! If you embrace any labels in a way that is capped, then you'll have no potential to grow.
For example, you may think of yourself as someone who doesn't like to talk to new people. There's nothing wrong with spending time alone, but certain situations in life do require reaching out to others you don't know. If you have a very rigid identity of yourself as someone who can't approach strangers, it might restrict you in a time of need. So don't attach any labels to yourself, you can and will change with time.
3. Who you are
Defining WHO you are is the strongest set of foundations. You can define yourself on the basic of core qualities that you value: Creative, Compassionate, Honest, etc. Striving to become something greater.
You must define yourself on an identity level by positive traits and virtues. This is what will give you a vision for who it is you can go on to become. If you don’t have a vision for how it is you can be better tomorrow than how you are today, you have no direction to travel in.
• If you define yourself to be ‘Creative person’. There is no limit on being creative. Even if you are imperfect, you still have limitless path to grow your creativity. It can be painting, cooking, dancing, whatever you desire.
• Apple, one of the most successful companies in the world doesn't restrict it's identity to a type of product such as iPhone or Macbook. Absolutely not! They define themselves as 'Innovators'. There is no limit to innovations, which is why they keep exploring new industries (eg. consumer finance) beyond their main products. Their image is that of an organization which disrupts any industry it enters with its innovation.
I hope this article has helped you understand how one can explore and define one's identity!
What are your thoughts about identity?