What Are You Really About?

I’m going through a lot of stuff this week.

Basically I’m reading old books and trying to figure stuff out about myself, asking hard questions, and so on. It’s working but it’s tough going and occasionally kind of upsetting. You come face-to-face with realizations you may not like, and when that happens, you have to try not to land in a bad place, emotionally, in order to be able to keep toughing it out.

One of the things I’m coming to grips with is what I want to be about, what I feel I already am, how others already perceive me, and how to align them all.

My question to you is: Do people really know what you’re about?

Could other people describe you in 30 seconds? Do they feel in their gut what kind of decisions you would make? Is your (ugh) “brand” clear to them?

I was asked these questions a few weeks ago by a friend who said that he knew what I was capable of, but not what I stood for.

Do you know what you stand for?

Where are your territories? What are your outposts?

Do you know for whom you would go to war?

I learned a long time ago what I was capable of, where my strengths are, and what upset me. But I couldn’t figure out what I was about.

If you’ve spent as much time drifting as I have, you probably don’t know either.

There are some questions above. Here are a few more. Answer them without corp-speak. Don’t relate them to work, unless you’re doing what you really love.

What did your childhood self want from life? Are you close to that?

Are you leaving an impact on people? Does that matter to you?

What would your best friends say mattered to you? Does that align with what you think of yourself?

There’s a lot strong questions we need to be asking ourselves to be certain we’re heading in the right direction and whether that’s congruent with our true selves (in you believe in that sort of thing).

I think the core thing is just that we never stop asking. Everything else is helped by that.





5 responses to “What Are You Really About?”

  1. Lisa Yallamas Avatar
    Lisa Yallamas

    These questions you ask resonate deeply because I’m grappling with similar emotions – and like you say Julien – I find you need to check in with yourself every now and again and see how you’re faring. This business of reconciliation with yourself and meeting expectations of the world is a difficult thing.

    I’ve been listening to Linchpin and I’ve found it’s terribly accurate with really good advice.

    I did a personal development thing with this consultant years ago. She helps people in the arts through blocks she creates a drama with miniatures and found objects. You create the forces at play by choosing from her stock of miniatures – yes it’s child’s play. That’s how children figure it out too.

    But she’d ask questions like: When was the last time you felt like you were doing what you really loved? How old were you? (pick something to represent you at ‘your answer’) How does he feel? Talk to that version of yourself and ask him what he wants. It’s a compass. As you’ve written about before the past, the present and the future you.

    I think it takes several months of doing something you love to do – away from your “normal” existence to reconnect.
    A few years ago I took long service leave to write a feature film script. I found it took at least two months to shed the scales of that “other life” in the corporate rat race.

    Five months ago, I quit.
    The other day I experienced something weird. I was driving, I turned a corner and I wasn’t thinking anything in particular. But I suddenly felt like to be the person I was before I became a journalist – it was like I was seeing through her eyes again. I think it’s a process of renewal and gaining the strength to do and deal with everything.

    What you do is amazing. Truly inspiring. I’ve listened to your book also – it is the first book on social media I “read” via audio books. I liked it because you have lived it and can speak from experience.

  2. John McLachlan Avatar

    Julien, this post really kicked me. It inspired me to write a post this afternoon in answer to it: http://johnmclachlan.ca/2010/04/23/what-am-i-really-about/

    Thanks for writing and laying yourself out.

  3. Alex Avatar

    I’m only 17 and don’t have much life experience to draw on. My opinion though is that it doesn’t matter how well you feel you know your self. Everyone changes and I think it’s about knowing that the decisions you make are the best ones for the ‘present’ you and the world that you’ve built around you.
    I think Paul Simon once said that he was embarrassed to play songs from previous albums because they didn’t bear any relevance to who he was at the time.
    I’m sure my thinking is naive, but I think we all move on from how we once were, and even though our previous actions shape who we are today, we shouldn’t reflect much on it as I think it is more a subconscious internal mechanism that we will never truly understand that drives us. I think ‘branding’ yourself can be a good thing if you want to group yourself, but it’s totally unnecessary to do it. You can be totally fulfilled and happy without knowing what drives you to do something. It’s kind of like children who get entertained so easily and just experiment because its fun!
    I love your blog by the way and your inspiring me to create my own!!!! well done!!!!

  4. Melissa Giovagnoli Avatar

    Questions like these have been an integral part of my business for years and people are continually surprised that they show up very differently than how they think they show up.

    I remember speaking at a conference and then walking out with someone who attended who asked me, “What really matters to you Melissa?” I shared that I really cared about helping others and making a difference in the world through helping my local business community–through entrepreneurship specifically.

    This person shared that none of this came out during my talk. This conversation really started me thinking about what I shared and how I shared what mattered most to me. A decade later I share often and openly and that has made a huge difference in getting support for what matters most to me.

    Thanks, Julien, for putting this message out.

  5. Dave Sohnchen Avatar

    I too have been wrestling with a lot of these questions and self reflection. For me though, it feels like I’ve landed in “bad place” emotionally where I don’t trust what I can do anymore. Your post “I Can’t (Read: Don’t Want To) Change” was very helpful in terms of encouraging change as a practice to help prove my strength to myself.

    I’ve been a position where, for the last number of months, I’ve been in default mode just floating along. It’s a frustrating place to be but it’s also a difficult place to get out of. I’ve been processing the fears that I have (mostly fear of failure) and how that affects my current state. Maybe all I really need to do is decide to make a change and continue to find out who I am and what I’m about. To look to others and how they perceive me and my abilities to get out of the rut I seem to be in.

    Thanks for this post. It’s exactly what I needed to hear to day.

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