Growing up, I loved collecting baseball cards. Do you remember them? Before the internet, Facebook, and Twitter provided us inside access to our favorite athletes, player cards were THE way to get to know your favorite player. I'd keep my player cards in a shoe box and look through them every season. It was my way to connect with players in a way that made me feel like I knew them at a personal level. But the cards didn't tell the true story. They merely gave me enough information to create my own definition of who they were. What really defined them went well beyond the simple stats and history of the clubs they played for represented on the card. I was deciding who I wanted them to be.
How about you? I imagine there are plenty of people who would like to decide who they want you to be, too. Maybe it's your current peer group. Maybe it's the leaders in your profession. Could it even be the voices of past experiences long-ago removed from your current reality? Regardless, can we agree that, like me with my player cards, there are others defining who they want you to be based on their own desires?
When we allow others to define who we should be, we lose our ownership for creating the life we were meant to live. Each of us have been gifted with personalized passions, purposes, and interests that if we don't guard them, can become buried in the expectations placed upon us from the outside. One of the chief thieves of our potential is the presumption of others for who we are to be! It doesn't have to be this way. T.S. Elliot provided a way forward when he said, "Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that is what you want; whatever you feel, be sure that is what you feel." Here's a place to start.
Take 30 minutes to write out your answer to these three questions?
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.