Identity Beacon

Illuminating Possibilities

Identity Beacon - Illuminating Possibilities

“I wish I had loved you more.”

With all that is going on in the world, it can be hard to stay sane, remain hopeful, and indeed, remember our shared sense of humanity. My advice? Let’s all take a break from the craziness and focus on what really matters: the people in our lives who mean the most to us. For a moment, forget the politicians, the pipe bombers and the shooters, at least for now.

The other day, I came across an article in The New York Times that stopped me in my tracks. The title is Writing a Last Letter When You Are Healthy. The author is VJ Periyakoil a geriatrics and palliative care doctor. Dr. Periyakoil describes his experience with end-of-life patients who express regret about not telling the people who mattered most to them how they really felt; among them: parents, sons, daughters, friends, and teachers.

My father died unexpectedly when I was 25. I had no time to tell him anything, let alone write a letter expressing my feelings. Neither did he. That experience has made me appreciate Dr. Periyakoil’s work on a deeply personal level. When I think about that moment, the difficulties that color our world today recede in my mind. I am left feeling clear-eyed about what matters most.

As if the first article weren’t enough to bring you back to what truly counts, here’s another one that grabbed my attention recently. It is entitled Stubborn Grudges Yield Little. Time to Change Your Investing. No, not necessarily your financial investing; your emotional investing.

Written by Carl Richards, a certified financial planner and regular contributor to The New York Times, the piece talks about how holding a grudge can slowly eat away at your soul, draining you of your humanity in small incremental amounts.

In the end, writing “last letters” is about more than affirming love, making amends, or offering, or asking for forgiveness. It is about freedom. The freedom to let go of what haunts you, to release yourself from unspoken burdens of the heart, from regret. It is about finding the personal integrity we all need to feel, well…fully human.

Politicians, bombers, and shooters will be with us no matter what you do, or don’t do. The people who matter most may or may not be.

Write that letter.

Can kids learn the joy of giving?

We live, as the Chinese saying goes, in “interesting times.” Wild politics. A fragile global economy. A fundamental shift in the distribution of wealth. It’s hard to navigate these treacherous waters no matter who you are. Taking rather than giving seems to be the underlying mandate. The unspoken theme? “How do I hold onto what I have … or get more of it if that’s even possible?”

That’s mostly “adult talk.” So, what about the children? How do we prepare them to navigate these waters? I vote for kindness; more specifically, I vote for teaching our kids about the joy of giving rather than taking.

The other day, I came across a wonderful article on how we can help our kids understand — and practice — the joy of giving.

The article names five practices for parents; in brief:

  • Be intentional — Make a point of talking to your children about giving and charity
  • Think beyond your family — Let children know that they’re part of a larger community; even that they are “global citizens”
  • Involve kids in decisions — Include your children in discussions about to whom something should be given and why
  • Gift outside the box — Consider the value of giving experiences not just things
  • Include the art of receiving — Learning how to receive gifts gracefully and with gratitude is as important as giving

This deceptively simple piece, and the wisdom it offers, might just renew your faith in what it means to be human. It did for me.

If after reading this intriguing article, you’re moved by its insights, share it with others. Our future depends on it. Let me know what you think.

 

What do you believe? (v.4)

It’s that time of year again — the ‘believing’ season: a time when little kids and big kids alike, from 8 to 80, surrender just a bit to the warmth and wonder of the Holidays.

This time, I find that experience to be especially challenging, given the insanity going on in the world today. But, that’s life. So, this year, I invite you to tell me and others what it is you believe about a variety of topics — some comforting and others clearly bot. Here you go:

I believe Donald Trump ____________________

I believe compassion ______________________

I believe family ___________________________

I believe wealth ___________________________

I believe truth ____________________________

I believe freedom _________________________

I believe ISIS ____________________________

I believe denial ___________________________

I believe America _________________________

I believe evil _____________________________

I believe good ____________________________

Got your own idea? Fill it in here _______________

(What) Do you believe?

I’m not grumpy. I’m distressed.

I believe in hope, cheer and gratitude as much as the next guy, but I’m finding it tougher to “get there” this year. Why? Because there is so much injustice in the world today, which seems to me to be unrelenting and unforgettable; even, haunting.

Needless deaths haunt me whether they are the result of police error, premeditated acts by extremists, or virulent disease.

Children who suffer haunt me. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. But it is. A current article in The New York Times highlights this awful reality, as seen through the lens of Unicef’s 2014 assessment.

Gross inequality haunts me. Until just recently, the Dubai Royal Family was about to ink a deal with the president of Tanzania, whereby, the government would turn over more than 500 square miles of land to the Family as their private hunting reserve. In doing so, 40,000 Masai would be displaced from the land that has been their home for centuries. The deal never happened but it was close.

Injustice is just everywhere, making it harder to have hope, offer cheer, and be grateful. Yet, I do and I am. Despite the insanity that colors our world, I believe, and I believe you do too.

So, if you’re game, take this year’s ‘belief quiz’ — you’ll get the quiz in my new viewsletter, shortly, if you haven’t already. When you do, fill in a few answers and share them here.

I’d love to know what you believe!

What do you believe?

Welcome to the believing season, otherwise, known as “the Holidays.” It’s a time of year when we give ourselves permission to believe in, and be grateful for many things in our lives — a close family, dear friends, snow-driven evenings; whatever aspects of our lives mean the most to us, but which we don’t always take stock of.

That’s the romance behind what we believe and believe in and it’s wonderful.

More practically, our beliefs profoundly influence our lives — for better and for worse. What we eat, who we hang out with, how we relate to our co-workers, the choices we make everyday are shaped by our beliefs. So, what are some of yours?

In this month’s Identity Insights newsletter, I invite you to weigh on what you believe about a variety of topics, which are likely to stir emotions stretching from anger and frustration to hope and peace.

Check out the newsletter and share your beliefs about one or more items. Examples? Well, what do you believe about trust? How about Twitter? Congress? Integrity?

Finally, of all the adages about believing, perhaps, the one that’s most common is this one: I’ll believe it when I see it. In the spirit of the Holidays, permit me to offer a different take on this line: I’ll see it when I believe it.

Think about that for a while.

Happy Holidays.

 

 

 

 

Descartes’ trap – Don’t fall into it!

The U.S. is doing it. Microsoft is doing it. Lots of people – not just nations and companies – are doing it: Falling into Descartes’ trap, and it’s taking a hell of a toll on everyone. If you don’t remember, Rene Descartes famously said, I think, therefore, I am. Five little words that set into motion one of the most prevalent and insidious identity traps ever.

Exactly what is Descartes’ trap? It’s when you unwittingly confuse the timeless nature of who you are with the changing nature of what you are.

The Obama Administration wanted to bomb Syria. Was this a rationale military strategy or a misguided, knee-jerk reaction to the idea that our country is the world’s policeman and must act accordingly? In short, if we’re not the world’s policeman, are we still America? Unwittingly, we confuse who we are with what we are – or believe we are – producing undo risk for all involved.

Microsoft is held prisoner by the unspoken belief that it’s value-creating potential is the result of is size and influence. In short: We are big, we are powerful; therefore, we are. Au contraire! Microsoft’s size and influence (what it is) are the result of how it creates value (who it is).

Individuals are also susceptible to Descartes’ trap. People confuse what they do with who they are, all the time. I am a star athlete; that’s who I am. I’m a young investment banker; that’s who I am. I’m a doctor; that’s who I am. Maybe not.

At some point, the star athlete retires, then “who” is she? Or the banker gets fired — for the second time in three years — and is at a loss for how to understand who he is in the face of recurring rejection. The label is gone, but the person remains. Now what?

Before you make life-shaping decisions about your job, career, love-life, whatever, make sure you distinguish between the temporal nature of what you are and the enduring nature of who you are. And keep in mind that who will always trump what.

Your happiness lies in the balance.

 

 

Who am I? – Mapping your identity

Most people consider the question, who am I, to be some deep, cosmic idea that defies a clear answer. Further, most people think it’s a question one can address only after you’ve got more than a few decades of living under your belt.

Wrong on both counts. Getting to know “you” in a real, articulate and meaningful way, is entirely doable and can start at almost any age. I’ve had lucid identity conversations with 10 and 11 year-olds. Through a process called Identity Mapping, I’ve worked with students, 13-19+, as well as people their parents’ age. Here’s a secret: they all get it.

I recently came across an article by a young girl, Julia R., in Teen Ink magazine that caught my attention. Julia understands a basic tenet of identity development. She writes: I dislike saying “‘I am trying to find myself’ because my identity is not lost, it just needs more uncovering.” Right on, Julia! You’re not inventing you, you’re discovering you. The name of the article is, Who Am I? Here’s the link.  http://bit.ly/Abg3yQ

I’ve found that Identity Mapping is a powerful way to uncover one’s unique capacities and then apply those powerful strengths to school, your career, your family, your community and other important relationships.

Imagine being in complete alignment with who you really are. Identity Mapping is designed to tap the creativity, vision and potential that resides in all of us, no matter our age.

For more on how to uncover the potential your identity holds – see this link.

What do you believe?

12. I can’t get the number out of my head. It must be the season…the 12 days of Christmas, the 12 months of the year, even being on the cusp of 2012.

We’re not just in the season of 12s; we’re also in the season of believing. In family, in friendship, in giving, in — yes, for some — even Santa Claus. So, I have chosen to offer up a little “belief” quiz.

Here you go: Continue reading