IDENTITY. i·den·ti·tyˌ /īˈden(t)ədē/
The word that has been shoved to the front of the stage in so many— too many —scenarios and platforms, and forced into once amicable conversations. Your identity has been analyzed, compartmentalized, politicized and ostracized… and corporations are notorious for doing this almost as a one-upping craft. They track every decision and purchase you make, log every stitch of your demo stats (not to mention your whereabouts,) and shove surveys down your throat all in the name of fuel for their Big Data machines. I get it. I accept it. (I mean, do I really have a choice?). I have done my own (very) small share of this practice as well for my own business.
But when the classification, and ultimate manipulation and often degradation, invades your own personal life —your home, your family, your physical health, and mental wellbeing— I call foul.
Companies often see an even trade when it comes to your employment– and, yes, this includes top execs and business owners. And indeed it starts off that way as fair dollars for hours or dollars for experience. But often the lines get blurred, then crossed, then obliterated- when comfortable time passes, higher expectations are expected, and your original unique identity becomes swept under the organization’s massive rug.
More for Them, Less for You
And more often, they get what they want out of you because you let them. More hours, more effort, more speed, more results and more ROI. And you are left with less. Less time with your family; less energy to reboot; less patience to deal with life’s frustrations; less peace of mind; less focus on your relationships; less investment in your own health; less hair on your head; less of your wardrobe that fits; less confidence in your value; less enthusiasm for what was once a dream career or job; less clarity about who you are, what your beliefs are, and your real purpose in life.
Sound a bit dramatic? Perhaps… until you begin your own concerted examination of your current career reality, and you see that you’ve allowed your own employer to take up space in your home, head and heart.
When you’ve lost your balance because your career has trounced all over all other areas of importance and joy, this revelation is at the heart of the changes you need to make to thrive again… outside of your career… as a human being with a distinct identity. Which brings me to John Lennon.
The Timelessness & Timeliness of John Lennon
“I don’t believe in Beatles. I just believe in me.” – John Lennon
The man who embodied greatness both with and without his band of brothers dealt us a timeless and priceless trump card with this profound one-liner. He is still an iconic mastermind in the minds of millions and across multiple generations because he never gave up his organically magical and unique make-up. These 10 words say so many things- just let them eclipse your knee-jerk assumptions; though nothing as simple as the importance of validating and celebrating one’s own existence.
Your identity is made up of your thumb-printed personality, preferences, features and idiosyncrasies, talents and an individual path of life. And along the way and through the years you’ve “registered” many-a-time as part of some larger entity— a friendship, team, neighborhood, organization, social platform or perhaps even rock-n-roll band— and done so for reasons of acceptance, recognition, money, accountability, social aspects, personal rewards, hell, even just to say you are a member of something. As a carrier of some virtual membership card for each you reaped benefits but still maintained your own identity- even as your galvanized more members, invested more time, talent, treasure and heart.
So, why do you let the place that places a paycheck in your hand- without the promise of eternity, mind you- reduce you to a number or liability or asset or title? Furthermore, what are you compromising every single day because you have exchanged your one-of-a-kind self for a label?
If You Believe in Yourself… Take Back Your Identity
- Who are you outside of your business card or title?
- If it weren’t for your nametag or business card, would you forgetyour own name?
- Do you seek confirmation from the umpteen activities, things and possessions you’re buried in that are all tied to work?
- Have you tethered yourself to your career or job at a cost of stunting your own personal growth?
- What kind of legacy are you on track to leave… and are you content with that?
There are more questions like this to sift through, but the biggest one of all, I believe is this one: What do you miss about yourself?
Drill down… and look at the time with your family, your energy, patience, state of mind, relationships, health, the condition of your body, your self-confidence and focus, level of enthusiasm for life and sense of purpose. Try to remember the last time you felt like a human being, or laughed your head off, or really felt like the weekend gave you freedom to just fart around and be free, or imagined you can indeed live to be 100, or checked off something on your Bucket List.
Are you living to work or working to have a life while keeping your identity intact?
Countless people, places, and experiences have helped magically mold your brilliant identity… don’t let your job strip it all away. Within or without the wheel of work, you must remind yourself that devotion to your own life, values, health, joy and truth comes first. The machine of your career is plugged INTO YOU, not the other way around.
Tilt the mirror, take a good look, remove all the nametags and adopted labels, the cords and attachments, and choose to redefine your reflection, inside and out. Believe in yourself again. BE yourself again.
Never Stop EVOLVING.