What will you be when you retire?
Will you be a Eustabie?
Will you introduce your retired self as, “I used to be a consultant / coach / accountant / designer / (whatever)”?
Some people spend a lot of time rehearsing their answer to the question, “What do you do?”
If you were asked “Who are you?” instead, what would you say?
For lots of reasons, it’s a bit sad if we don’t know who we are beyond what we do for a living. It’s often this that makes us stand out from the mass of other consultants/ coaches etc., and attracts clients who choose us because of our interests, talents, values and quirks.
A friend recently added this tag line to her LinkedIn profile:
🦇 More at home in a gloomy, candle lit library than a crowd 🦇
That tells us a lot about who she is and if she sounds like your sort of person, you’ll want to get to know her.
Whatever business you’re in, you’re going to be dealing with people, and life is much more interesting when you connect on a human level.
What most people want is that indefinable something that makes them trust you and want to know you better. We all know people who adopt a personality and have an attractive façade but who’s true character is very different, so how do you show ‘character’ vs. ‘adopted personality’?
N.B. There are some things you can’t say about yourself: like you’re honest, funny, kind, generous, trustworthy, sexy, loyal, a good friend, etc. Only other people can say things like this about you, based on their experience!
I was recently invited to write a short introduction for five people who are sponsors of an organisation I’m involved with, and while it was easy to find their business interests, it was a lot harder to find out who they really are, their values, ethics, and what they stand for, and that’s what was needed for people to connect with them.
For years I used this as my Twitter header:
Talk to me about atoms, death, science, aliens, magic, love, the meaning of life, your hopes and dreams, art, music, your favourite scents, what keeps you up at night … and especially, what makes you laugh.
I’ve made firm friendships with many people who talk about these things and never mentioned what they do for a living.
But back to the question of the person you are: I recently read “To ask what sort of art one should practice is to ask what sort of being one is. It follows that before we rush to answer the first part, we should consider the second. What sort of beings are we? Contingent; capable; conscious. What sort of art should we make? Communion.” (From Joseph Braun’s description of a conversation with Seth Braverman )
By working through the thoughts that inspired this post I’ve just discovered the answer to both the question “What do you do?” (which I’ve never been comfortable answering) and the question “Who are you?”
The answer to both is that I’m an investor in people.
I believe that all of us are smarter than any of us and that by enabling the sharing and exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings on things that really matter to us, by helping us all to see our shared humanity, whatever our differences, we can work together to make it possible for everyone to contribute the best of themselves, and through this we’ll create the conditions to build a better society for us all.
One of my favourite books is The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. In it she addresses the question of “How to be lucky”:
The answer is: be generous.
“If you’re generous to someone, if you do something to help someone out, you’re in effect making them lucky. It’s like inviting yourself into a community of good fortune. You invest in others, interest free with no IOU. Lucky people make other people feel lucky to be around them.” Twyla Tharp
This is my world. I am the luckiest of lucky people because I’m surrounded by the most generous group of exceptionally talented folk who are consistently, persistently, generous to each other.
How about you?
Your business is important, your work is important, but not as important as you.
I recently read about a portrait photographer who would ask people to bring along to a sitting five objects and a flower that would help describe who they are.
What would you bring?