As I’ve discussed in a previous post, Intentional Identity is the clear, unapologetic view of yourself. It’s living authentically, understanding where you’ve come from, where you are today, and where you want to be in the future. I firmly believe that the foundation for your path to success is defining your Intentional Identity and using it to drive your future vision and actions.
In order to truly discover your Intentional Identity, I’ve outlined the following five step process:
In today’s post, I plan to dig deeper into your Origin Story…let’s find out where you’ve come from, and how that history impacts who you are today and who you want to be in the future.
Why do we need to understand our past? You and I both know that there is no real superhero that doesn’t have an origin story…a background that explains the key moments in life that shaped and molded their personality, values, and skills. If we are to become superheroes our self, then we need to have our own story…our own version of our history. Going through this exercise will help you understand the key points and lessons in your life that drive you through the present, to your future.
This process starts with reflection on your past. What things immediately come to mind when you slow down and reflect on the past? Spend some time, doing a brain dump, of all of the memories and moments that come to mind. Don’t dwell on them for now, or try to analyze or read into any one thought. Instead, make a long list of who, what, and where. This exercise might take you 10 minutes, or it might be something you continually add to throughout a day or more. Either way, make a thorough list since this will prepare you for step two.
The second step in this process will take more time and introspection. It might even be best to find some quiet, alone time, to meditate on each scenario on your list. Think about why it came to mind, how it makes you feel, and what lesson you learned in that situation. It may be that you discover the key to a core value that is important to you, or a personality trait that helped you get through a difficult time.
For me, this exercise reminded me of the chicken coop I turned into an art shop, showing my entrepreneur tendencies, even in elementary school. I remembered my grandmother asking, “who would bring a child into this crazy world”, and thinking I was going to make it a good world for my children. I thought about bullying I had encountered and how I learned to know a real friend from an imposter. As I remembered each of these moments and scenarios, they reinforced different components of my current life…my goals, my personality, my beliefs. This is what I hope you get out of the exercise as well.
For the third step, I want you to move out of the past and into defining characteristics that unite these scenarios together. Begin to categorize the stories and memories into buckets that tell the story of you. You might find a bucket of stories that reveal your natural leadership. You might find a bucket that shows determination, or creativity. Whatever patterns you see, begin to separate the story into those clusters and pull together some key themes. I want to challenge you, in this exercise, to put aside linear and chronological thinking, and focus more on themes and values.
Finally, after you’ve sorted all of your recollections into categories, the final step is to write a narrative that tells your story. Think back to the superhero origin story I mentioned earlier, and think about how your story would sound. What have you learned about yourself, how has your past impacted your present situation, and how will you use this information to set your vision for the future?
While this is primarily an exercise to help you understanding your core identity, this final document can also be used for other reasons. The stories will help answer questions in interviews, it might become a bio or an about me page, and it might help you, as you move into public speaking or writing, or any other way you might share your story with others.
Most likely though, this will remain a background document for you, to understand your origin story, how you became who you are today, and how you will define and accomplish your success for the future…a step on the path to your Intentional Identity.