Don’t Let Your Job Define Who You Are!

Norm was a faller! For three years, Norm fell big trees in the wilds of British Columbia. Norm was so good at falling trees that he could drop a tree exactly where he wanted the tree to land, and taught others to do the same. Norm could have let his job define who he was and lived the hard working, hard living life of a logger, but he wanted something more and that may have saved his life.


Sherry is a school teacher. For over 25 years Mrs. Gilbert has been teaching kids like mine and yours how to read and write, how to socialize and behave. Some parents might not really appreciate the fact that Sherry has wiped their kids’ snotty noses more often, and spent more time with their child in a given year than they have.


So often when people want to know who we are, they ask us what we do. It’s as if what we do defines who we are. Because we don’t understand and haven’t defined our personal mission in life, we let those descriptive words of our occupation bind and restrict us.


Many times, we let our job descriptions limit what we are capable of. We think that a leader, manager, journeyman, housewife, or an entrepreneur, needs to look and act in certain ways. We believe that because we have a certain type of career, we need to dress and act the part, even when we are not at work.


I am no different than you. In looking for a second family vehicle last year I had certain expectations of color, size and type of vehicle that would make a statement to my clients if they happened to look out their window when I drove up. Perhaps if I hadn’t let my job define who I was, I might have chosen differently.


Having clarity about our purpose in life can be a very freeing concept. However, it can be difficult to ascertain. It’s that ageless question, why am I here? What am I meant to do? Is there meaning to life? If we allow ourselves to be limited in the answer to what we do in our work, we might be driven to drink, or depression.


To gain clarity about our purpose in life we need to ask three questions.

  1. What do I do that really makes me happy or feel contentment?

  2. What am I good at that others seem to struggle with?

  3. What do I do that makes a difference in the lives of others?

In many cases we might realize that what we do for work gives us the resources to fulfill our purpose. Perhaps our passions are filled by our volunteer work, our family life, or our communities. These are good things. However, if we were to let ourselves be limited by what we do in our jobs, our lives might seem boring leaving us in despair.


The next time someone asks you the question “What do you do?” remember that they might really be asking “Who are you?” which is a totally different question. And that evokes a very different answer!


Dave Fuller, MBA is a fun loving, adventure seeking, husband, father and friend, who happens to work as a business strategist and Award-Winning Business Coach. Dave works with Norm Adams who no longer falls trees for a living. Email dave@pivotleader.com and tell him who you are!

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