It seems to me that many of us don't really know who we are.
We have our very own personal identity crisis.
We spend our very busy lives doing stuff, achieving stuff.... but still not really knowing who we are.
What's you're identity?
Who are you really?
If we take away all your stuff... then... who are you?
Yeh, we know what you do for a job, we know what you look like, we know what you drive, where you live and what you've done... but who are you beyond all that?
Are you the sum of your achievements and possessions... or are you something much greater?
What are you known for?
What will you be remembered for?
Have you thought about it?
Do you care?
How do others see you?
When people (who perhaps don't know you intimately) refer to you, what's your label?
"Oh, you know Todd; he's the surfie guy with the Brad Pitt body and the killer blue eyes."
"Sure you know Sarah; fifty-ish, heaps of money, owns that kid's clothing label, drives a Porsche.... blonde hair"
"Simon?... oh yeh, he's that arrogant, how-good-am-I bodybuilder with the gigantic arms, tiny head, bad skin, horrible breath and no self-esteem."
And waddabout your family and friends; what kind of identity do you have with them?
"Yeh, dad's kinda... well.. I guess he does love us....I think... he's pretty moody though... but it's probably because he's tired, being the workaholic that he is... and anyway... as he always says; he's doing it all for us kids..... funny, doesn't feel like it sometimes"
For some people, their identity is their body (a body builder maybe, a model perhaps), or part thereof (the flat-chested girl who 'buys' herself some gigantic breasts).
I see this (my-body-is-who-I-am syndrome) a lot in my work, and as ironic as it may seem, I actually spend most of my time helping people develop anything but their body.
When our total identity (who we are) is something external (to our mind, our spirit, our nature - the essence of who we really are), then we set ourselves up for pain, disappointment and anxiety.
As long as our identity is rooted in something which can be taken from us (looks, jobs, money, toys), we'll always be insecure.
For some people their identity is their career... "did I mention that I'm a CEO now?"
Their car... "wanna go for a spin in my....?"
Their house...."yeh, I probably don't need the thirteen bedrooms but..."
Their money... "got most of my money tied up in property, shares and a few others strategic investments..."
Their academic achievements... "yeh, just finished my Phd".. (great achievement but it's not who you are... it's a thing you did!).
Their fearsome reputation... "I've got seventeen black belts, I bench press a thousand pounds and I eat live chickens for breakfast"(and I'm an insecure idiot who desperately needs your approval).
Whatever their identity is....it's the thing which gives them (a level of) confidence and self esteem (in front of others anyway)... makes them feel more secure, safer, happier, better about themselves (for a while).
Earlier this week I went to a funeral to celebrate the life of an amazing woman.
And while she had done much in her life (practical stuff, career stuff, sporting stuff), her children (all seven of them) got up and spoke about who their mother really was.
And this wasn't just some feel-good, emotional fluff... no, they painted an accurate picture of who this woman was.
She wasn't a job, or a possession, or a body, or an achievement... although she had achieved much.
No, she was a selfless, loving, caring, generous, passionate, strong individual who influenced and affected many... and left the world (or her part of it) a better place.
As I sat in that service with tears rolling down my cheeks (there goes my wanna-be-alpha-male identity), I thought to myself... I hope there are a few people present saying similar things when I'm done down here on the big blue ball.
It's great that we set goals and it's great to strive to be a high achiever (I do).
And there's also absolutely nothing wrong with being wealthy, having a great body, an incredible career, a great home, practical goals (financial, physical, competitive, career) and even a few toys...
... as long as what we do, what we own... or what we look like... hasn't become who we are.
And as long as we are not the sum of our achievements and possessions but in fact, something much greater.
Who are you?