Thursday, September 9, 2010

Are you what you do?

Are you what you do? That is a question that has been asked in many ways. One of the things that we do when we meet someone is ask “What do you do?” As a child people are usually interested in things like “What do you like to do?” “Where did you grow up?” and “What kinds of things are you interested in?” It seems the older we get we begin to live by labels and not by the other aspects of our lives. We grow up being a brother, sister, teenager, graduate, husband, wife, employee, and then somewhere we become the label of what our job title is. When did we become the people who, when we meet someone, the first thing we want to know is “What do you do for a living?” I know that due to employment being scarce and jobs not falling out of the sky, the latest trend is to network, go to networking events and meet other professionals, but even then the other professionals we meet are not receiving the true picture of who we are.

Growing up our friends learned as much about us as they could, probably even knew more about us than our families, but one day we become the label of the job. I think we are the only country that worries about someone’s job title, and maybe that has to do with the concept of “Keeping up with the Jones’s”. Or maybe it has to do with our own ego’s that tell us we are what we do. I find it strange that as a general rule we do spend more time at work, or even doing work from home trying to keep up that good worker status we hand ourselves, when in all reality we are missing out on the rest of our lives. I know work is about money, and money is about affording things, but neither of those can go with you in the end.

For years I was a counselor and was always amazed when meeting with a new client, doing an assessment to find where I could help them and asking them the question “Tell me about your self?” The answers would start flooding in packed full of the labels they have been carrying around with them. I would hear their birth order, who they are married to, and it always ended with “well I am a _____________ worker, or I do _____________ for my job. I can remember numerous times I would ask the question again and request them not use any labels, just to share with me who they are.  I found it staggering the number of people could not tell me anything about themselves. I would ask what sorts of things do they like doing and the number one answer was “well I enjoy my work”

 To have a job is great, to be looking for a job is like a full time job, but where have the labels come from. If you are unemployed and you meet someone, what is your response to the question “What do you do?” I will bet it is “I am unemployed and looking at the moment. Although this is probably correct, I would say I am seeking the perfect fit for me and my skills at the moment. Same answer but a completely different label. People tend to forget that the job will be there after they leave it either by choice or being terminated, so I encourage everyone to find a label less understanding of who they are so that they will be better “employees” in the future. To have a personal life is great just remember to leave personal at home and work life at work and try not to let the two cross.

We are who we are, that was the idea when we were teenagers, and somehow some where we lost that mind set and became a label. 

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