Who are you, if not your job or profession? I asked myself this question recently, and didn’t have an immediate answer. It’s easy to say I am an astronomer, or I am my job title, but what am I besides my job? What are you?
I’m sure for some people, this is an easy question to answer, but for others like me (an enneagram 3) who tend to identify themselves with what they do, it’s not as easy. Sure, I am a son, husband, father, brother, uncle, etc., but these don’t define me. They don’t make me me – with the possible technical exception of being a son, of course.
I am an adventurer. Yes, but no. I like discovering new things and I am usually up for an adventure, but I don’t really live for it. What else could I be?
I am an expert. No that’s both too arrogant and inaccurate. I have too many interests to really be an expert in any/many of them and although I want to learn how things work, I don’t feel I have to be an expert in them, so that’s not right.
I am an observer. There’s some truth in that, and not just as an astronomer, but it sounds too passive. I like watching things and noting how things work, but I don’t want to just watch things happen, so I need a more active description.
I an optimist. That’s close, but I don’t go through life looking for things to be optimistic about. I believe we can often make events good simply by choosing them to be so while other times, we can extract good from an otherwise bad event by studying it and working to do so. So, optimism is more of a tactic than a strategy for me.
I am an explorer. OK, that’s sounding better. It describes my interest in science and astronomy and includes key applicable traits of being an adventurer and an observer. I explore to understand how things (including organizations and people) work. I explore to learn how to make them work better; how to use them to do other things; and sometimes simply just to understand them. In the process of exploration, I’ll often take something I know and look at it from a different angle or do it in a different way. All this fits with being an explorer; it is, at least, the best I’ve come up with so far.
Beyond my attempts to peel back my own onion layers, what’s my point here? That each of us is more than our jobs and our professions and that by understanding both ourselves and our colleagues better, by understanding who we are besides what we do, we can better work with each other to create better environments for people to live and work to their potential.
So, who are you? And who are your colleagues? Are you working to help give them what they need to be themselves? Are you creating an environment where each of you can get the most return out of being who you are? Do your colleagues know who you are so they can do the same for you?
Scot’s been suffering from jetlag recently and this post arose as a result. He hopes, however, it still makes some sense and he wishes you all, whoever you are, a happy holiday and a great 2015.