I hear this phrase, “I am the job,” fairly regularly, like it’s something to strive for or be proud of. As a leadership coach who wants to help people reach their ultimate fulfillment and potential, I wonder about how this viewpoint truly impacts people’s lives, without our awareness of the stress and pressure associated with it. When we “are the job,” our identity gets intricately woven into our vocation in ways that are unhealthy and definitely not holistic.
Here is some of the crazy messaging we encounter within ourselves when our identity is conflated with vocation:
· My identity hinges on my success at work.
· I feel shame when I make a mistake or lose a deal.
· I don’t know who I’d be if I lost my job.
· I spend less time with my family and friends than I’d like because work is my measuring stick for my self-worth.
· When people call me a workaholic, I am proud of that.
If you have some (or all) of these messages in your head, it’s ok. We all do in some way or another. Yet we have the choice to separate our identity from our vocation because what we do is not who we are. Let me repeat that for you.
What we do is not who we are.
As human beings, we are way more complex and multi-faceted than our jobs. We have senses of humor, we have likes and dislikes, we have hobbies and activities we like (or used to like) to do. We are more like a diamond with its many facets than like a piece of blank 8.5x11” paper.
Part 1 reflection: observe yourself and identify where your identity and vocation get mixed together. Take some time to write these observations out on a piece of paper, you’ll use them in next week’s reflection.
Stay curious, dream big, and take one small step towards reaching your full potential in something else other than vocation!