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Identity

 

No matter who you are, the proper answer to the question of "I am ____________" is:

"I am what I do."
You might assert that you are a good person, but if you don't act like a good person, you're not.
You might assert that you are happy, but if you don't behave with a cheerful demeanor, you're not happy.
You might assert that you are a doctor, but if you never practice medicine, you're not a doctor.

You are what you do. In fact, you could simply get rid of "I am" and say "I [insert verb here]" and then you've nailed it.

Mrs. Nashleanas taught seventh grade English at North Junior High School in Sioux City, Iowa. She made her students memorize the 23 helping verbs of the English language. She told them that helping verbs water down a sentence. The sentence resonates louder without it.

"Am" is a helping verb.

"I am writing a book" is less powerful than "Today, I worked on my book and wrote eight pages."

"I am a good person" is less powerful than "I volunteered at the shelter yesterday."
"I am happy" is less powerful than "I gave my wife a big smile before I left for the office."
"I am a doctor" is less powerful than "After lunch, I performed surgery to repair a man's rotator cuff."

Your verbs are who you actually are. Your nouns are your intentions. Nouns are how you want others to see you; it's how you see yourself.

Let's say that you are a giant. "I am a giant." That's how you see yourself and how you want the world to see you as well. But if you sleep until noon every day and then watch court TV while munching on Doritos, you might as well be a teenager who is 5' 4". You're not doing gianty things. Introducing yourself as a giant is not only irrelevant, it's misleading.

Or, without describing yourself at all, you could thunder across the valley to scoop handfuls of earth to repair the levy before the flood waters arrive. How would people then define you to others?

"In just three steps, she crossed the valley and with hands as big as a building and patched up the levy. Saved the whole town. No one else could have done it."

Yours deeds define you.

So, if you seek define yourself, you need to start with a somewhat remedial task - you have to plan the verbs of your day. What verbs do you undertake to be the person you want to be? Said another way, if you were to plan the start to your day, a daily plan that feels most like you, how would it start?

"I would be fishing."

Great, but that might be ignoring your responsibilities.

Prayer?
Meditation?
Exercise?
Shower?
Making love?
Talking to your children who are at some distant college?

How would you plan your day so that by 9 AM you could already say that your day was awesome?

Mine, as an example:

6 AM

Card deck reps of wall pushups, leg lifts, half-squats, seated crunches, and half-bridges
5-mile bike ride
Shower
Standard breakfast (ham, eggs, sautéed onions and red peppers and spinach and garlic)

7:45 AM

To-do list overview and revision

8 AM

Work

All of that lines up with two of my personal goals: health and productivity. When 8 AM rolls around, I already feel like a success because my actions line up with my goals.

"I choose to do the right things..."

If at the end of the day, you have done the right things, as you have defined them, then that is exactly who you are. You carve out your identity by choosing to do the right things. Each time you make the choice to do the right thing, it's a victory. It builds your esteem through these little incremental achievements.

Sometimes, it's easy to get bogged down in what you're not. You have flaws? Yes, yes... we all do. But if you focus on doing the right things, your defects, as they are, diminish. You can put them in the rear view mirror with each choice.

 


by Brett Rogers, 1/4/2013 7:01:15 AM
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