How do you define yourself when asked who you are or what you do? What is the answer that you most often give? Does that answer change or vary depending upon the context or company we are in? Do you present a single answer or give a list of talents, hobbies or skills?
I enjoyed a great visit this weekend with a family friend. In a discussion with one of their children I learned of a recent identity crisis this young person had encountered this year. This individual had been an athlete their entire life, concentrating on one particular sport. They had received tremendous accolades, attention and success in this area. This success led them to be a significant part of a major University and the team in this sport. Dreams and goals were achieved in reaching this pinnacle of success. They had achieved what they had intended to throughout this young lifetime journey.
The end of last season, this individual was injured and no longer able to compete. With humility and tremendous gratitude for the opportunity they moved forward into their senior year in school. Keep in mind this individual is extremely goal oriented, driven and finds success in life. The identity crisis occurred when the new school year started. Their entire life had been this sport, each time they were asked to tell something about them, they replied with the same answer, I am a _(athlete)___. They would proudly tell others what position they had on the team and who they were.
This part of the team became who this young athlete was. This is how they identified themselves and who they viewed themselves to be. When asked this year who they were, they were confused and unable to respond.
Now this young person is far more than just an athlete. They are an amazing example to so many in so many other areas. They are a very intelligent, motivated, strong and determined young person. They were simply in the process of discovering truly WHO they were, not what they were.
Many times we find ourselves struggling with WHO we are and get caught up in the what we are or were. This confusion paralyzes many. Some get stuck in the glory days of High School and end up a fifty something still talking about that one pass that would have won state. Others get hung up on the what we are and become puffed up with pride and ego, unable to see the true world around them.
It is in the Who we are that changes the world. When we focus on the what we are we change nothing.