Your career or job shouldn’t be your identity. Characterizing ourselves as such assigns too much value to an external and temporary source. If I identify with being a school teacher, I am confined by the rules that govern it. I am someone who teaches children in a school setting. A firefighter fights fire, a chef cooks, a leader motivates, an accountant reconciles accounts. Most jobs are quite literal in what they do and our self-worth can be strongly tied to it. When we leave, we feel like we’re losing a bit of ourselves too.
True identity lies not in the what but the why. The emotional stimulus elicited from performing said job is the underlying persona of who we want to be. You find fulfillment in educating the next generation and because of that, your job is a school teacher. You find satisfaction in creating delightful food and because of that, your job is a chef. My passion is to inspire others to Show Up and because of that, my job is a leader.
Aristotle told us “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” So the next time someone asks “What do you do?” Tell them your why, not the what. The more we say it, the more we remind ourselves, the more we live it out.