How many times when you meet someone knew the first thing that you say to them is what you do for a living? Or do you define yourself from something that you did previously? If you were a Marine like me that would be the first thing I said to people, or are you a CEO and that is the first thing you say to people. However, if you are a cashier, that isn't what you tell people. Right?
Why is it that when we do things we want to do we use that to define us, but when we are doing things we don't want to do we hide it shamefully. When asking the question, Who are you? What is the first thing that comes to our mind, a label, a job, a past career, etc.. If you are retired do you no longer define yourself because you don't do anything or is your response I'm a grandfather or I am a stay at home mom. Regardless of what your answer is or isn't, the person you are talking to will either be positive and say that's great or they will give you that look that makes you doubt its significance in the grand scheme of things. Well, maybe we have it all wrong!
When I drove for Uber for a couple of months I didn't go around telling people that's what I did, I focused on either being a former Marine or a yoga teacher for a non-profit. I am not any of these things though, I happen to have had the pleasure of serving my country, and now I have the pleasure of sharing my knowledge with fellow brothers and sisters, and yes I drove for Uber, I went to school, I did solar work, I designed websites for my own company, and even did simple construction jobs for people. A big part of my transition from the military life was removing myself from that label as a Marine. When I stopped introducing myself as a former Marine I felt that I was now able to grow past that part of my life and move into the next chapter doing other things and more importantly finding out who I am as a person without creating new labels for myself.
Let's dive into the question, who am I? I am a person, I am not a job, I am not a label! I can only be defined by me. To elaborate, you cannot define yourself with words or actions that you may have done, good, bad, great, it’s unexplainable to a person who you don't have a relationship with. A funny way my family describes me is by saying Nick is Nick! I love that! Simply because I am not held to a standard of a label and I own it. We should all think of ourselves in this way. You are you regardless of what you do, have done, will do, or won’t do. So when you meet someone what do you say?
Maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking a question that will end up with a label, when you meet someone maybe start it off by asking someone more specific questions, for example, notice something they have and ask about it. Or even better, What brought you here today/tonight? My yoga teacher and founder of the Exalted Warrior Foundation doesn't add job titles to our business cards. Why? Because it is a conversation starter when asking the question of what do you do for EWF? The need to define ourselves to people we just met might be a little ridiculous, maybe even offensive at times. It’s like walking up to someone and asking what color their underwear is, maybe it's a little invasive at first, especially if that person is not doing what they want to do in their life at that moment. Because of this a lie is possibly born or they describe what they are striving for and that can have a negative effect on the energy of the conversation. We should approach situations and conversations like we already know the person in that we don't need to know what they do or what they drive. However, a great conversation starter that is positive would be is that your bike? That's awesome what is it? I really love that hat or shirt!
We all feel judgment in our lives regardless of what we label ourselves as, so let us avoid that piece altogether! Let's get to know Nick, and not force a label onto others. When we stop putting labels on others we learn to avoid labeling ourselves! We get to build true and authentic relationships and we will have something to remember them by! Life will be more pleasant for everyone!