Monday, February 01, 2010

Created Identity

Created Identity appears where self and future meet. Our Created Identity is the identity that we decide to create for ourselves. It is the part of our identity that is not controlled by our past or by other people. The truly successful people I‘veever met have created identities to become the human beings that they chose to be—without being slaves to the past or to other people. This concept is the beating heart of Mojo.
In my job as an executive coach, I help my successful clients achieve positive, lasting change in behavior. As I have grown older, I now realize that I should often be helping them change their identity—the way they define themselves. If we change our behavior but don’t change our identity, we may feel ‘phony’ or ‘unreal’, no matter how much we achieve. If we change our behavior and change the way we define ourselves, we can be both different and authentic at the same time.
I am not na├»ve. I don’t believe that we can become anything that we want just because we choose to do it. I am never going to be a professional basketball player. No matter how many positive thoughts that I have, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have little to fear. We all have real physical, environmental or mental limitations that we may never be able to overcome. My extensive research has indicated that we will all get old, get sick and die. We cannot wish physical reality away with ‘positive thinking’.
On the other hand, I am amazed at what we can change, if we do not artificially limit ourselves. In my own work, I have seen leaders make massive positive changes, both in the way that they treat others and the way that they see themselves. Everything that follows in MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back When You Lose It! is based upon these experiences and my belief that most of us can change both our behaviors and our identities.
Our created identity allows us to become a different person. We can change to fit changing times. We can change to achieve higher goals.
All of us do this in some way. The client who hangs on to the self-image that he’s bad at follow up, long after it’s true or meaningful, is literally living with a false identity. So is the boor who thinks his cultural heritage excuses his rough manner, although he’s only fooling himself with this fake ID. But the real damage is how these limiting ID’s prevent us from changing—and becoming someone better than we used to be.
When we define ourselves by saying we are deficient at some activity, we tend to create the reality that proves our definition. I once heard a client claim that he made a bad first impression. As someone who was favorably impressed by his manner the first time I met him, I asked, “What do you do the second time that reverses the bad first impression?” The conversation that followed was surreal.
“I’m much looser with people the second time,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“I know them a little better, so I talk more freely, I joke around. I’m confident that I can charm them.”
“Why can’t you do that the first time,” I asked.
“I’m shy. Being outgoing with strangers just wouldn’t be me.”
“And yet, that is who you are the second time,” I said. “Don’t you find that odd?”
“I’ve always been like that,” he said, as if that ended the matter, as if he was beyond forming a new version of himself with strangers.
This client was indulging in the most transparent form of self-limiting behavior, relying on crude circular logic to prove his point. He literally stopped trying to win people over on first meeting because he defined himself as being bad at first impressions. It boggled my mind. But many of us are no different. When we tell ourselves that we can’t sell, or are awful at speaking in public, or don’t listen well, we usually find a way to fulfill our prophecy. We literally groom ourselves to fail.

Life is good.


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MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back When You Lose It!

What Got You Here Won't Get You There


1 comment:

Kate said...

Well put. Good stuff to think about. Thanks Marshall!