Identity Beacon

Illuminating Possibilities

Identity Beacon - Illuminating Possibilities

What’s on your business card?

How do you present yourself to the world? Do you — can you — present your true self or do you present the traditional, expected “data?” — What you do, who you work for?

Here’s another approach for fashioning a personal business card that asserts your more powerful, more meaningful parts. Stay with me …

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to make a presentation to the Association of Career Professionals(ACP) here in Connecticut — a diverse group of career coaches and consultants, outplacement executives, and individuals in various states of transition. The session was entitled: My Brand, My Career: Building the Relationship of a Lifetime

While shaping one’s personal brand was the ostensible focus of the meeting, my intention was to take the crowd to a deeper place — a place that, once reached, would become the foundation of their personal brand, but also provide them a fresh perspective on how to build a life and legacy they’d be proud of. In short, their brand would become their authentic, distinctive, and sustainable center of gravity.

To get to this “deeper place,” we tackled a variety of questions ranging from who am I? and what makes me special? to where am I going?, who can I trust?, and what is my message? All of these questions, and others, were aimed at cracking the code on one’s essential identity as the starting point for shaping a truly meaningful brand.

Once you crack your code, you’re ready to get real. Put your personal brand statement on a business card — if you don’t have one, or only have a company card, have some made — you’re inviting people to get to know you faster and better. You’re inviting notable discussions, which could lead to a new job, or even a new career. (And, it’s a great conversation starter at cocktail parties!) You’re promoting what you’re really “good at” and what makes you unique. That’s what your brand needs to do.

What are you waiting for?

The problem with “identity” (Fixing it is up to you)

Do you know what the word of the year was in 2015? It was ”identity” according to Dictionary.com.

Why has identity become a hot topic today? Why was “identity” the word of the year in 2015? Chalk it up to the new individualism — a world where we’ve become keenly aware of, and more vocal about what defines us, thanks to the opportunity social media has unleashed to publicly assert yourself. (Ironically, despite its many blessings, social media has contributed to the problem by enabling people to create “identities” which may have nothing to do with who they really are.)

Why does personal identity matter? Because it fuels not simply a sense of who you believe you are, but as a result, the choices you make such as where to work, whom to call a friend (or enemy), and indeed which political candidate gets your vote.

Taken together, our identity-centric lives are coalescing into potent, new communities demarcated by beliefs, both spoken and unspoken, that increasingly influence how well society functions — or doesn’t — economically, socially and politically.

So, what’s the problem?

For all the attention this “identity trend” is receiving, it reinforces an impression that actually diminishes rather than expands upon what it means to be fully human. Indeed, the notion of “identity politics” undermines the deeper meaning of human identity.

The actual ‘problem with identity’ may be a matter of meaning. As the word of the year in 2015,identity’ suggests the timeless fact that we all long to belong. We yearn to tie ourselves to a group, a tribe, a community we can call our own. But that isn’t the deepest meaning of the word.

What I’ve learned over three decades is that your essential identity – your distinctive, value-creating characteristics – springs naturally from the core of your being – a place that is blind to classifications, transcending gender, ethnicity, religion, and every other label we adopt as a way to locate ourselves in the world. You are simply you: unique and powerful in your own right.

With this in mind, identity’s 2015 “word win” may reflect the sobering fact that it was the most used, least understood term out there.

When your definition of identity is based upon a descriptive label rather than the special contribution you’re capable of making as an individual, you short-change yourself, those you care most about, and society as a whole. Why? Because, to paraphrase a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, you leave your music inside.

How you can help fix the identity problem

It’s pretty simple. To borrow another quote from Holmes, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Don’t let the pull of labels or social media distract you from tapping into and applying your innate identity to your life. Everyone will benefit including your co-workers, your friends, your children, your spouse or partner and, most of all, you.

At bottom, having a clear sense of identity is the key to shaping a life marked by authenticity and integrity –- knowing what to do, what not to do, and why.

Here’s one more quote to take away. It’s from British artist, illustrator and teacher, Evelyn Mary Dunbar: “We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.”

I hope you agree.

 

 

 

Leaders wanted – Chameleons need not apply

Sometimes, it’s easier to not be who you are in this world. Your boss wants you to be whatever you need to be to get the job done on time and on budget. Your friends want you to be what they need you to be to fit in. Your kids want you to be the best mom or dad on earth, available when and as they need you. (They also want you to be unavailable, when they want nothing to do with you.)

So where is the “you” in your life? The authentic, self-aware person you are, or at least would like to be?

The good news: More and more companies are inviting the ‘true you’ to show up at work, in hopes of motivating you to give your all and, in turn, perhaps developing into a leader others will want to follow. Here’s an article on a new leadership model the shows I’m not making this up.

The bad news: After spending so much energy making other people happy, it can be challenging to muster the self-awareness needed to find, be, and show yourself. Getting there isn’t a function of taking an inventory of your experience, skills, or talents. It starts by answering three questions:

What do I love? What brings me joy? What brings me alive?

Embedded in your responses are clues to your potential for creating distinctive value in the world, which has everything to do with you as a leader, whether you aspire to lead a company, a family, a church, or simply yourself.

The idea of just being you in a world that tugs at you to be what it wants, can feel uncomfortable…what if people don’t like who I am? But the truth is, people are most drawn to, and most admire and respect, those who have the courage to be themselves.

So, get on with it: Answer the questions above and let me – and the world – know who you really are.

The peace in Bill Marriott’s eyes

This time of year it’s hard not to think about peace. We’re in the season of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” We sing about it, ponder it, imagine it, pray for it. But we don’t have it.

I believe that before we can have peace among all of us, we need to find peace within each of us.

To this end, I was struck by a story told to me recently by Jim Hackett, CEO of Steelcase, one of Fortunes Most-Admired Companies. He recounted a conversation about the challenges of long-term brand building he had had with Bill Marriott, Chairman of Marriott International. At one point, Bill said to him, “we know who we are not.” Jim saw “the peace in Bill’s eyes” and decided then that he wanted that peace for himself.

That ‘peace in your eyes’ is powerful medicine for many ills. It helps cure greed, insecurity, stress, envy, and a variety of other contemporary ailments that get in the way of creating a more fulfilling life, a more successful business; indeed, a more serene world.

What brings you peace?

 

 

 

 

 

The Identity Code: A Tough Nut to Crack

It’s inevitable. All execs search for the secret sauce that will fuel success. The next big thing is, well, always BIG When I read about what makes great companies great – and lousy ones lousy – I sense that one factor always comes into play; that is, the identity, or lack of identity, of the organization. In short, either you got it, or you don’t. And you can’t make it up.

If identity is at least part of the “secret success sauce” it is because it provides the human model of how a company works, just as economics provides the capital model of how a company works.

In the context of strategy, ‘cracking the code’ on identity is a way for leaders to unleash the unique capabilities of the corporation — and turbo-boost performance in return.

For insight on how to tap identity, please download this free information.

 

Living leadership (Lessons from the dying)

The idea that life, let alone leadership, can be informed by those who are dying, seems counter-intuitive at first. Of course, it isn’t. People who face death, especially, those who’ve lived long lives, can see things more clearly than those of us who are still running with the herd, whose perspectives may be clouded by the dust storms we encounter as we move furiously forward, every day.

The spark that led me to write my Living Leadership newsletter – the article, Top 5 Regrets of the Dying – also led me to ask myself what regret(s), if any, I would have at 90 (!!), if I chose not to do something in the here and now.

So, in the spirit of commitment (mine) and community (ours), let me share with you one thing I would regret not having done, were I to find myself, 30 years from now, reviewing my life.

i would regret not having worked more with children; not having brought my love, understanding, skills and experience with identity discovery and development into places where children (read teens and college kids) reign … youth organizations, schools, perhaps, even families.

If I can help kids learn a bit more about who they are at, say 15 or 19, then I’ve upped the odds that they’ll make better choices going forward. For me, that’s worth fighting for. Whether, years from now, I’ve touched 100 children, 100,000, or more is less important than the fact that I’ve tried. No regrets.

Is there a “regret” you just won’t tolerate when you’re looking back over your life, decades from now? Feel free to share. You’re probably not alone.

 

 

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.

New year, new you?

Ever wonder why the new year inspires so many resolutions? And why so many don’t stick? On the surface, it’s pretty funny. For instance, you see dozens of new faces at the gym starting in January, most of whom have left by the end of February. Where did they go? I’m betting home.

We love change. We hate change. We want more. We fear more. We aspire. We demure.

The new year is a call for hope. For possibility. For “maybe this time.” It’s a worthy pursuit. But, here’s the rub: Most people are trying, unconsciously, to change who they are. Bad idea. You can’t. So when you try, it often leads to let down.

Better plan: Before you exercise your outside, exercise your inside. Examine why it’s been so hard to get moving in the first place. Start with  these 3 “exercises:”

  1. Write down 2 things about yourself you love and do NOT want to change, ever!
  2. Tell someone (starting with you) how you will feel about yourself when you reach your physical target (lose 10 pounds, run 3 miles, do 25 push-ups, etc.).
  3. Let yourself off the hook. It’s OK to not want to go at the gym, sometimes. Acknowledge that feeling – most people have them – ask yourself why, then go anyway. (I’ve talked to people who’ve told me that reason they stopped going is because they didn’t like to feel bad about themselves – not because they were lazy. So, admit what you really feel and move on!)

I know you have the courage to do these things. And when you do, I know you’ll be one of the folks whose face I wind up recognizing in June, long after the “hopefuls” have lost their juice.

One more thing: Write me and tell me how it goes!

 

 

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