” My mama always told me, that if you can’t find something to live for, you best find something to die for.” – Tupac Shakur
The most important aspect we carry as people is our identity. It is so easy to look around and start wishing you were doing what everyone else is doing. But what that actually means is you are willing to compromise your true self in order to fit in. Conformity kills individualism, so do not lose your identity just to fit in a mould that suits others.
We commonly talk about identity as a way in which an individual portrays themselves to the public. For most people the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word ‘identity’ is their image. You could think of this as a company’s logo, signage or business card. Yet identity is not what we look like to the outside world but identity is what defines who we are. So when people say you suffer an identity crisis it’s because you are beginning to live inconsistently with who you really are regardless of how people see you.
The fix is to step back and ‘find yourself’ or ‘rediscover your identity’because we all know how devastating the effects can be if there is something wrong.
The questions today then are, why do we take a superficial approach to the issue of identity? Why do we look so much to outward appearances? Identity begins long before outward appearance and it runs much deeper than looks. Appearances can hide a lot of rot, sadness and confusion. We know that when you deal with ‘a real’ person, everything else follows out of what is essential.
So in this post I want shed some light on how we ought to deal with our identity. It needs to refer first and foremost to the essence of the individual. Then what they stand for long before we talk about race, gender or ethnicity.
If you have dealt with identity issues, you will know that it is necessary to look beneath the surface. Yes, confront your demons, the real issues. Exploring these issues should assist you address the ‘who am I’ question.
Do not be a person who just wakes up and follows time as it goes by. You need to clarify and articulate your life purpose, ask yourself why do I exist? What would be missing if I didn’t exist? Is my vision clear, do I know where I want to go in life. Is my mission clear, how am I going to get to where I need to get to in life. What is my promise to the world?
You need to have a personal purpose statement. Something you look at every day so that you align your day to that statement and not the other way round.
What are you about as a person? Your values and how did you come up with them? Most importantly, if we were to ask your close friends would they come up with the same set of values or at least something close? I have seen many people fall in the trap of adapting values because they are trending or buzzing. They want to impress society so much they take up values that mean nothing to them – it’s great to weigh in on gay marriages but are you going to be your authentic self about that conversation? Before people even hear you speak remember there qualities that already characterise you. There are already some things that you value and exude and these are what people really want to know more about and engage with. I identify as African, Mozambican to be exact and I am very proud of my African roots. So when I speak with an African accent I am fine with people asking me where I am from because that opens room for genuine conversation. I dislike wearing suits because I feel they have a colonial connotation to them, if i walk into an office in jeans and a cap that too will be a conversation starter. Remember, in the end your personality feeds your reputation. You can only fake it for so long before everyone knows your true colours, so best to get it right at the start.
I have found out that by far the people who stimulate and interest me in life are those who are passionate about their own purpose in life. It is a lot of fun to have conversation or argue with someone who knows who they are and what they stand for thoroughly. Some people find themselves stuck in conversations simply because well, people are talking, and you quickly realise that their passion for it is nowhere close to what it should be. Same in business, some people get by without the necessary passion for the industry they are in but because it offers a lot of money. But by far the best are those who are passionate about what they do, the Steve Jobs, the Bill Gates of this world.
Passion is contagious and it is quickly ‘caught’ by the environment you are in. In issues pertaining to leadership it is crucial because passionate people propel an idea forward and represent it well.
Clarify and Articulate
Identity is not something to discover, it is something to clarify and articulate. Your identity already exists, whether you are aware of it or not. It is important that you bring to the front what is good and you would like to passionately carry forward. The process of establishing your strategy allows you to do that and to then strategically articulate your identity and the way it will be carried by all aspects of your life. This is who you are, you need know exactly, be clear about it and be able to communicate it consistently.
Your life becomes powerful when you begin to execute all its elements out of the essence of who you are. All your communicative elements should be aligned with your identity. In the end, your life is most successful when all the people around you say that you are consistent with what you have always said about yourself. When your reputation matches your promise then you have done well.
Do not treat your identity as a superficial issue, dig deep and explore who you are. Do this for your legacy, for your family if you are blessed with one. And feel no regret for sticking to your word. Even if it is not popular, trust me your tribe will understand.
Share with us your thoughts in the comments section. Let’s Be Great!