Who Are You?

How are you likely to respond if I ask you the question “Who are you”?

“My name is Stephanie.” That’s your name. Who are you?

“I’m a project manager at Acme Design.” That’s what you do. Who are you?

Do you see where I’m going with this? Those are descriptors of you, but they tell me no more about who you are than the other project manager named Stephanie at Acme Warehouse in Toledo, Ohio.

In his book Victory Over the Darkness, author Neil Anderson posed a great question that I’m going to steal here: “Is who you are determined by what you do? Or is what you do determined by who you are?” While Anderson posed this as part of a book on Christianity, I’m going to use it a bit differently.

Let me rephrase it: Do you define yourself by the work you do (that I know so many of you hate) rather than choosing work that is an extension of who you are at your core?

Too often we let things outside of ourselves define us. We go to jobs that suck the life out of us so that we can keep up with the mortgage payment on the house we bought next to the Joneses. And when people ask us who we are, we use that miserable existence as the definition.

News Flash: The Joneses are miserable. I don’t want to keep up with them and you shouldn’t either.

I wonder how much more fulfilling life would be if we looked deep inside of ourselves and asked the question “Who am I?” then followed it up with “And what would I be great at?”

Don’t let what you do define who you are. Instead, figure out who you are and let that revolutionize what you do.

Question: Who are you?

About the Author

  • Great post Travis. As I'm sure you know well, the book "Now, Discover Your Strengths" hits right on this premise. Discovering what you're naturally bent toward doing, then structuring your life in such a way to exploit those strengths is the path to long-lasting satisfaction and success in your work.

    Great stuff!

    • Thanks, Justin! "Now Discover Your Strengths" is a fantastic read. Great recommendation!

  • Great post Travis. As I'm sure you know well, the book "Now, Discover Your Strengths" hits right on this premise. Discovering what you're naturally bent toward doing, then structuring your life in such a way to exploit those strengths is the path to long-lasting satisfaction and success in your work.

    Great stuff!

    • Thanks, Justin! "Now Discover Your Strengths" is a fantastic read. Great recommendation!

  • Good stuff. Excellent questions. It took me several years working a job I disliked to come to the realization that it was in my power to change it. As soon as I realized who I was, it was easier to decide what work to do.

    • Great thoughts, Nick! It is in our power to change. I think so many people lose sight of that because they've been beaten down for so many years. They just accept that it can't/won't get any better. As a result, they never do. It's awesome to hear stories from others who made the choice to pursue their passion.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Cheers,
      Travis

  • Good stuff. Excellent questions. It took me several years working a job I disliked to come to the realization that it was in my power to change it. As soon as I realized who I was, it was easier to decide what work to do.

    • Great thoughts, Nick! It is in our power to change. I think so many people lose sight of that because they've been beaten down for so many years. They just accept that it can't/won't get any better. As a result, they never do. It's awesome to hear stories from others who made the choice to pursue their passion.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Cheers,
      Travis

  • I think I mentioned the book to you before, but you absolutely have to read it! "Book Yourself Solid" by Michael Port. The title sounds like sales mumbo jumbo, but seriously, this guy quit his high paying executive job and starting working as a consultant for health/fitness professionals – something he loved. After frantically accepting ANY client/project, he learned he was miserable and implemented the "red velvet rope policy", which is cool in itself. Essentially, he made a commitment to doing the work he loved and working with people he felt passionate about, and of course, his business picked up.

    Had he not have gone through that bought of misery and tough times, he wouldn't have known who he was and what he should be doing.

    Once I got laid off from Yahoo!, everyone kept asking if I was interviewing and did I get a job yet. Every time someone asked me this, I cringed. I knew I didn't want to start working for another company because their vision never matched my own. So, I started working for for the Amber Khan company and it has been very rewarding.

    Now, I know who I am and can use my strengths everyday. I also get to help some amazing people and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

  • I think I mentioned the book to you before, but you absolutely have to read it! "Book Yourself Solid" by Michael Port. The title sounds like sales mumbo jumbo, but seriously, this guy quit his high paying executive job and starting working as a consultant for health/fitness professionals – something he loved. After frantically accepting ANY client/project, he learned he was miserable and implemented the "red velvet rope policy", which is cool in itself. Essentially, he made a commitment to doing the work he loved and working with people he felt passionate about, and of course, his business picked up.

    Had he not have gone through that bought of misery and tough times, he wouldn't have known who he was and what he should be doing.

    Once I got laid off from Yahoo!, everyone kept asking if I was interviewing and did I get a job yet. Every time someone asked me this, I cringed. I knew I didn't want to start working for another company because their vision never matched my own. So, I started working for for the Amber Khan company and it has been very rewarding.

    Now, I know who I am and can use my strengths everyday. I also get to help some amazing people and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

  • Patty

    I am in that life sucking job. Arg! Hey I think you stole my notepad. Yes the one with the question mark. I am trying to figure out who I am.

  • Patty

    I am in that life sucking job. Arg! Hey I think you stole my notepad. Yes the one with the question mark. I am trying to figure out who I am.

  • Patty

    You Go Amber Khan. Best wishes to great success.

  • Patty

    You Go Amber Khan. Best wishes to great success.

  • Patty

    You Go Amber Khan. Best wishes to great success.