How to Really Answer this Question: Who Are You?

How would you answer this simple question? Who are you? I recently posed this question to participants at the Awards and Personalization Industry Expo in Las Vegas where I was speaking on the topic of Corporate Culture, Reputation and Values. Actually, I pose this question to most every group I work with regardless of whether it is ‘business’ or ‘life’ related – isn’t everything life related? Back on topic. Why do I ask this question? Because I believe it is one of the most difficult questions for someone to answer on the spot, yet the most important question of one’s life.

Consistently in my practice, I find that people answer with what they do, and not who they are. They rattle off their stats, so to speak, and a list of the roles they play in life. The ole name, rank and serial number. For example, “My name is Ann Papayoti, I’m from Birmingham, Alabama. I currently reside in Montreal, Quebec. I had a 17-year career with Delta Air Lines before opening a consulting business with my husband, and more recently my private coaching business. I’m 54-years-old. I’m married, with 3 kids, 2 cats, 1 dog and I enjoy reading, dancing and traveling.”

Okay… but who are you? The answer should begin with ‘I am’, as any English grammar teacher would tell you.

Let’s try this again (values are underlined). I am a seeker of truth, and find it through ongoing education, spiritual growth and in appreciating my creativity. I live integrity in my words, deeds and actions. The lines on face are authentic, and remind me of my ability to persevere through adversity. The world is my family, and I believe in love and compassion and leaving each personal encounter with a smile.

Could you define who you are in a similar way? By taking value words that represent what is most important to you and put them into actionable statements that represent you? What about your company? Could you state what it’s motivations are for being in business beyond making money?

As a coach, I work with individuals and business to define who they are and what they stand for – in other words, what they value. When my now 21 year-old was a going-out-on-the-town teenager (drinking age in Montreal is 18), I would always say to him as he was leaving the house, ‘remember who you are and what you stand for!’ to which he would respond with the dramatic eye roll and the occasional ‘whatever’. You know what? He knew what I meant. He knew that I meant be confident in what you believe in and represent beyond the walls of this house so that you are not influenced otherwise. So that you lead rather than are led. So that you respect yourself tomorrow. So that you are happy, fulfilled, void of conflict, guilt and shame.

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Katie Perry purrs it out in a song, but I believe Shakespeare was known to have first written it in some form. I’ll have to fact check that. Regardless, knowing what your guiding principles are and being able to articulate them is is having that confident sense of self that will carry you through daily decisions and critical moments. It will give you peace when you say no, and confidence when you say yes.

So, who are you?

Here is a list of values to help inspire your thinking. Download here.

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