Who are you really and what defines us for our life’s work? Are you on track or have you allowed “life to distract you”? Who or what are you missing?
What defines us_ (Audio)
If I were to ask: who are you?” how might your respond? Would you say your role or title or your profession, or your faith? What would you say? You know, I’m a project manager, or a CEO or a mum etc. And if I said: “what defines you?” what might you say? Two questions that really go to the same “what is your life purpose” place, don’t they? Today’s blog is going to ask a lot more questions than it could hope to answer, as the answers will usually be very personal indeed to each and every one of you, however, I hope to create quite some awareness around this.
What defines us?
I am currently reading (or should I say studying?) Neale Donald Walsh’s trilogy “Conversations with God” and am being gloriously challenged in my open mindedness, my outlook and my thinking – left, right and centre.
You know, I have found most of us run our lives on autopilot. We go through the motions of “what we do” every day, sometimes (or is it often) not being really aware of what we did at the end of the day, right? Are we really doing what we love best? Are we doing what really matters to us? Or are we “just showing up” because we need the income to support or sustain our material lifestyle?
In my pre-coaching questionnaire I ask my clients to reflect on their Balance in their lives, suggesting they assess their time estimates allocated in a given month over their different roles, given that we are usually a son or daughter, a sibling, a friend, a partner or husband or wife, a parent, an employee or business person, an artist, a sportsperson, a holiday maker etc.
We have so many different roles, don’t we? Are they what define us?
Is it the clothes we wear, or the car we drive, or the area or the home that we live in, or the schools we went to and our kids go to, or where we go on holiday, or the impressive title of our designated role or profession, or the restaurants we frequent? Are they what define us?
I read the above somewhere referred to as the number of comma’s in our salary and the number of letters behind our name.
Belief in Self
Some time ago I sought some local business culture advice and insights into a country I was planning to do business in and was advised to “lose the watch”, suggesting the watch I wear would be “condescended” there and that people wouldn’t want to do business with me at the level I sought if I wasn’t seen to be wearing a Rolex or similar. Well, I can tell you that I certainly didn’t believe that such a superficial level of perception defines me, and I am very happy with who I am and what I do (and the watch that I wear). However, how many of us may “fall for that” if we were so intent on “chasing the dollar involved”?
I have learned together with so many of my clients how important it is to “know what we stand for”, lest we “fall for anything”.
Being in the now
Those of you that have read any of Eckhart Tolle’s work (starting with “The Power of Now”) will know how we differentiate between the past, the present and the future. That most of our conditioning we still allow to affect us comes from the meaning we gave to events in the past (made in the mind), that most of our worry comes from our concerned anticipation of the future (made in the mind) and that life was meant to be lived in the now (and that this is best achieved when we learn to shut up the incessant left brain mind chatter) and allow us to be fully present in the now.
I have used a metaphor before that if the size of the rear view mirror in our car could represent the time spent “looking back”, and the windscreen were to represent the time we spend “looking forward”, then perhaps the size of the rest of the interior of the car might represent the time we can spend in the present.
So does where we spend most of our time either “in our mind” or rather “in our life” define who we are?
Is it where we went to school that matters, or what we learned at school that matters? Does our education define us?
Is your education sometimes used as an excuse? Or did it perhaps raise in you a “hunger” to learn and experience new things? To be innately curious about life and how things work and how things might “pan out”? Is that what might define us?
Another trap we can fall into in terms of what defines us is allowing our ego too much leeway. We can be “lured” or “sweet talked” into pandering to our ego with impressive titles. We can be too strongly driven by our need for recognition. Is it perhaps our image what defines us? That makes us vulnerable to “the committee of they”, doesn’t it? You know, that we are always looking to or wondering what others may think of us, instead of knowing who we are and sticking to what matters to us.
My late mum used to say: “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”. We are so strongly influenced by who we “hang out with”, aren’t we? Is that what defines who we are?
Results or Success
Could it be that our success, that is, our quest to deliver results defines us? Don’t our peak athletes run the risk of being defined by their presence, their persona, their fame, their ability to draw a crowd? Is that “outer image” really who they are? Or is it the internal drive to succeed and overcome adversity – the “mongrel” in them that defines them?
In my blog Values I speak about “living” what we value versus “aspiring to” values that others expect of us. Aren’t your values a significant part of who you are? You know, the filters by which we judge right or wrong or good or bad? Which of these are still part of our conditioning and which are the ones we truly “own” in our everyday lives today?
Speaking of which, would you be amenable to a quick exercise? Similarly to what I wrote in Self Worth, if you were to consider a few people that you “look up to” or admire, what do you really value in them? And if we were now to assess yourself on how well we love those values in ourselves, how might we “stack up”? Is that perhaps what defines us?
When I have…
I remember as an adolescent often pitching to myself: “when I reach or achieve xyz, then I will….” Can you relate? It was only a number of years ago that I realized that I was still allowing myself to think and act this way. The acid test is usually when we get there. If the quest was to reach xyz because then I will be happy, did it work? Are you then any happier having achieved it?
Without all that
However, what happens when we strip all those ‘titles” or images or external attributes away and just leave the “person we are” underneath all that?
If we were left with only the clothes we are wearing, our health and all our relationships but “have nothing left materially”, how might we feel about ourselves then? Kinda hard to imagine, I know, but what if you were to try? How would we feel? Hopeless, Depressed, Valueless? Excited?
What if we could try Using “the Gap” to reframe yourself and wonder how we might feel about being like a new born baby, like a clean sheet of an artist’s canvas, but with decades of life experience, skills, knowledge, wisdom, IQ and EQ? A new start but with everything I am and everything I know available for me to use?
Couldn’t you get really ex cited about that?
So after all that, where does that leave us in this conversation today?
Have I helped you reflect and create a stronger awareness of the questions that relate us better to “who we really are?” To differentiate platitudes from what matters and get us to think about what our true purpose might be?
Aren’t all the above examples some of what defines us? Don’t they all add little pieces into the fabric that makes us who we are?
Doesn’t it come down to a few key questions about what our vision might be, where we are on our path towards that vision, how far we may have allowed “life to distract us” from that path, and what we might want to do to get us “back on track” to our true path again?
What if you could?
As Confucius said so well so long ago: “Remember, no matter where you go, there you are”.