What We Do vs Who We Are

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I was talking with a friend the other day and they told me that the question “what do you do for a living?” is typically one of the first three questions someone asks when they first meet you. Over the past few years I’ve realized that we focus so much of our energy on what we do and not who we are. In many cases the majority of our identity is aligned with what we do. The question about who we are seems like a luxury.

As I continue on my journey and try to explain to others what I feel, I’m realizing that it much more effective to create experiences to help them feel the same way. It’s really hard to explain what’s going on for us inside. It is especially hard to explain the shift from the nagging uneasiness that I felt for close to 50 years to the sense of calm that I have come to know in my daily life. A big part of that shift was realizing that what I do is NOT who I am.

When we were at a dinner party in Perth on our global journey, one of the guests suggested that over 90% of the world’s population has asked the question “who am I?” I totally disagreed with him and thought the number was closer to 20% of the population. I’m sure that many people have had a fleeting thought about who they are, but really digging into the question, that number is much smaller. As I became clear that I was not my occupation my world got much richer. I began to see my work as a way to make a living, not my life.

In the past couple of years I’ve tried to move forward to integrate who I am with what I do. I’ve worked hard to build a life, a complete life, that integrates my work with the rest of my life. There is no longer a “work” persona and then the “real” me. They are the same.

So, the questions becomes, how do we start the conversation about who we are rather than what we do? On April 5th, in conjunction with a few other sponsors, we will be launching a new monthly breakfast series called the Business Unusual Breakfast Club. The unusual part of this monthly gathering will be that nobody is allowed to talk about what they do. The conversation in the room will be 100% focused on who we are. If we strip away the mask that we put on for our business self then maybe we can see each other for who we really are.

I’m very excited about this new endeavor. I’m excited for the partners that we will be working with as well as the experience we will create for those who attend. I know that helping people see others through of lens of humanity will produce amazing experiences rather than focusing on what we do. So, who are you?

To a life well lived!


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