Saturday, October 29, 2005

You Are What You Think You Are

If your sense of security lies in your reputation or the things you have, your life will be in a constant state of threat and jeopardy because possessions may be lost, stolen or devalued. If your self worth constantly fluctuates, you don’t have any sense of consistency or anchorage or selfhood. You are constantly trying to protect and ensure your assets, properties, securities, position or reputation.

What you believe you are you are. How you perceive yourself becomes yourself. If you are your job and you aren’t successful at it, you equate yourself with failure. If you equate happiness and/or success with material possessions and you lose them for some reason, is there nothing left of you? Is that all you are?

Years ago I used to do volunteer workshops with teenaged girls. The first question I asked them was “Tell me about you.” And after they answered me I asked them to tell me about their best friend. The answers were all the same….”She dresses really well” ; “She has a great figure”; “She’s the most popular girl at school”; “I wish I had her hair etc. etc.

I stayed silent for a moment and asked them this “Are you only what you see in the mirror?” They didn’t know how to answer that. And then the conversation began. A few of the girls had little or no interaction with their parents. Their parents were so wrapped up in their own lives, traveling, working, socializing, that they left their kids pretty much to their own devices. A couple of the girls had eating disorders. Their parents hadn’t noticed. All they were to them, to their friends, was their physical presence, not their humanness……their heart, their mind, their passions….

I see it in teenagers and I see it in adults. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed new clients and asked them who they were only to hear what they do for a living, what they want to accomplish re: their professions, not necessarily one and the same with what they are passionate about in life.

Many equate happiness with the size of their paycheque. Many equate who they are with the level of their position. One is not a leader by virtue of their title or position within the organization. One isn't successful based on the amount of their paycheque. Everyone has a different idea of personal success. To be an effective organizational leader, one needs to be able to bring out the passions, talents and strengths of those around him/her and help them evolve because of them. The leader doesn't need to know how to do everything.....the leader needs to know who can do it and how well.

When someone meets you for the first time and asks you about yourself, do you immediately go into what you do for a living? your work? Is that all that defines you?

The other day I was reading a letter from a Coach in the U.S., Marshall Goldsmith who posed the question, if you had to choose a CEO for a large have X number of applicants with the same credentials, same level of knowledge, intelligence, credentials etc, making it an even playing field, who would you hire? You would take into consideration how those applicants got along with they behaved.

When I Shadow Coach my clients I am able to show them in real time how they behaved, processed, interacted, communicated....what was working, what wasn't.....who they were in the scheme of things. Did they help their staff grow? Hold them back? Were they utilizing the strengths and talents around them? Were they asking for what they thought they could get rather than what they wanted? The last question being very important as if you're asking for what you think you can get, you're assuming you can't have it all....and that demotivates those around you.

Who are you? The question isn't what do you do.....not about your's who you are inside it, besides it, in spite of it in some instances. And if I asked you that question right now.....would you have an answer that would make you smile?

Donna Karlin

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