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Who are you?

Back in high school, the only term paper I wrote was for my Rock Poetry class. The incentive was that with a term paper, you were guaranteed an A in the class. So, I decided to do a paper on the most recent album of The Who – the Quadrophenia album. To be adolescent clever, I gave it the title – “Who are The Who?” Today in leadership development, a most appropriate and similar question is - Who are you?

Do you know who you are? There are a multitude of surveys and inventories that will give you ways to begin the process of identifying who you are. If you recognize that this is part of a process, not a defining judgement, and that any lens is just that – one lens to look through to see you in a particular way, then you can accept what is helpful and leave the rest behind. All these instruments and tools give you information about your personality, tendencies, and competencies – they do not tell you who you are.

Who you are is an ongoing narrative about the human being you are co-creating within an ecosystem of relationships. Your story about who you are changes as you modify your own narrative. As an example, for a multitude of reasons, I did not play organized sports in high school. This meant that I was not a recognized athlete in a particular sport. However, it opened the door for me to pursue my own fitness as an athletic person. In my senior year of high school, I was allowed to design my own physical education which included: weightlifting, running, cycling, racquetball, and Kung Fu San Soo. This experience became the foundation for continuing to co-create who I am as an athletic person to this day.

And our ecosystem of relationships is in a constant state of flux- either through our choice and/or that of others. I believe one of the greatest gifts of adulthood is the opportunity to choose who is in your ecosystem of relationships. When you are a child, it is not always a choice, because you did not have the freedom to leave certain relationships. However, as an adult you have a choice about who you want to include or not. Is a person life-giving and/or do they “spark joy” for you, as popular author Marie Kondo would ask? And know that the other side of this gift is that others are choosing to include you in their given ecosystem of relationships. You may decide whether this is more of a blessing and/or a curse!

Co-creating who you are is like writing a term paper. It is not finished until you stop writing it. The distinction here is that there is no guaranteed grade – only the joy of ongoing co-creation. Who are you?

~ Kevin Buck

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