Meeting new people can be exhausting and awkward. You spend the first few minutes stating your name (which for some reason always sounds like you’re hearing it for the first time), providing your job title (depending on what you do, this may take a while to explain) and/or your marital status and number of children you have (this topic for some people could be quite complicated and too much information for an initial meet and greet).
This being the modus operandi for most introductions, we are programmed to believe that who we are is defined by what we do, our marital status, or the number of children we have. Such programming is so subtle that we’re not even aware of it until asked a question that is outside of the formula, thus a question like “what is your passion” makes us nervous and is usually followed by a blank stare and a long pause.
I became aware that I was programmed this way while I was on a date with someone who wanted to know more about Lashana the person and less about what I did for a living. When he asked “who are you” I immediately went into my “elevator pitch”. Not even a minute into my pitch I was interrupted, and he proceeded to restate the question “who are you, not what do you do”. Wow, I really didn’t know how to respond. I honestly had to ask myself “who am I if not a Sr. Director of Finance, Career Coach and Author”?
I’m embarrassed to say that it took me a few days to even get comfortable with his lack of concern for my career titles - titles that I worked really hard to achieve. However, once I was able to think of myself apart from my career I realized that what he really wanted to know was that I am…a hard working motivated woman who values family and true friendship, I am very spiritual and passionate about helping others reach their fullest potential, I am a sensitive and caring person who loves deeply. Characteristics which are discrete from the position I hold or the business I own.
Defining myself was very humbling, but a necessary part of my quest to rebuild my self-esteem. If defined by what I do, I am susceptible to an “identity crisis” if I ever change careers or dissolve my business. Who I am is constant and is not contingent upon a title, marital or financial status. I AM NOT DEFINED BY WHAT I DO!
Coaching Challenge: Take some time to really answer the question “WHO ARE YOU”? I challenge you to think of yourself apart from your position at work or at home. Think about the person you are and will always be despite the title you hold, your financial situation or your current marital status. Define yourself in terms of constants, unwavering characteristics. While completing this challenge remember YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY WHAT YOU DO!