Who Are You?

Quote of the Week

“Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life — facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential.”

— John Amatt

Who Are You?

by Nancy Gerber

Whenever we’re nervous about meeting someone new, or facing a challenging situation, we often hear the encouraging phrase, “Just be yourself!” It’s a common belief that being ourselves is easy. Actually, it’s one of the most difficult things in the world.

We usually act on beliefs and values that originate with family; others come from educational experiences, religious institutions, jobs, friends, the media or social groups. Most of the time, we’ve absorbed these viewpoints unconsciously during our life experiences, and make decisions and take actions without a real awareness of the underlying principles that motivate these choices and behaviors. How can we know who we are without examining these building blocks and deliberately choosing the ones that make sense for us?

There are so many influences and needs that distract us from staying on course and remaining true to ourselves. If we’re lonely, we may compromise just to have some company. If the bills have piled up, it’s so tempting to broaden our boundaries a little to embrace a wider range of earning activities. The ever increasing overload of ideas and information muddies the waters even further.

And, even when we have a pretty clear understanding of who we are and what we believe and value, our own self-defeating habits and attitudes get in the way. I shared with a dear old friend today, someone I have known for over thirty years, that I’ve become aware that I’m holding back in an important aspect of my life, that I’ve been resisting stepping up to my potential in this area for a very long time.

“You, holding back?” my friend laughed. “I find that hard to believe.” I realized that he has always experienced me as someone who generally plays full out, takes risks and faces up to most challenges. This really brought home how out of sync I am in this area, in spite of my best intentions and strong desires.

What I’ve begun to do is look at my most common behaviors that are characteristic of who I am generally, and think about how I can implement them in this challenging portion of my life. At the top of a page, I’ve written: “I’m a person who….”, and have begun to jot down phrases such as, “meets challenges head on”, “confronts the truth and corrects mistakes” and “welcomes and embraces change”. Perhaps keeping this list of my chosen values and behaviors visible daily will remind me of my true identity and help me move forward.

Copyright 2007 by Nancy Birnbaum-Gerber. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Nancy Gerber, Professional Certified Coach and President of Stepping Stones can be reached at www.sstones.com.

Coaching Call to Action

Nancy speaks of the beliefs that we have learned in our life. Often, we don’t take the time to look at these beliefs, how we learned them, whether they serve us any longer, etc. They are invisible to us. The coaching work that I do with the PaperRoom sheds lights on the beliefs, habits, perceptions and assumptions that may be helping us or hurting us. E-mail me if you want to learn more.

What kind of person are you? Take a few minutes to choose the attributes that fit you most of the time. This week apply those attributes in an area that you have been resisting. Let me know what new ideas and insights you gain.