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Individual Identity

Happy New Year to you. Here we are at the start of 2022 and maybe like me you are wondering what this year holds for you. Surely it can’t be any stranger than 2020 and 2021? New year often stimulates to think of what we want for the year, who we want to be and how we want to develop. So, our series this month will look at how we develop identity of ourselves and our organisations. This week is the turn of our ‘individual identity’.

One of the biggest philosophical questions is, ‘who am I?’ For thousands of years people, whether through philosophy or religion, people have debated this. Now, this is only a simple leadership blog, so I won’t attempt to give a thorough breakdown of what gives us identity. As a leader though, it is important that we understand who we are, who we are not and that our identity is not static.

In my work as a coach, one of the most empowering things I have seen is helping people discover who they are. In my work this has been through answering these questions:

· Why? - What is my passionate purpose?

· How? - What are my values that I want to live by?

· What? - What strengths do I have to deliver this?

Passionate Purpose

Someone recently asked me what I will do when I retire. I must now look old and they thought I was nearing retirement age. My answer was simple, ‘I don’t think I will retire’. I won’t retire because I can’t retire from my passionate purpose. My passionate purpose is to ‘empower’ people. When I was a headteacher it was to empower my staff to empower children. As a leadership coach and trainer, it is to empower people through my coaching, training, podcasts, book, blogs to lead themselves and others. Our passionate purpose is not our job. Our job is just a vehicle to deliver the passionate purpose. Having a purpose is not just for doctors, teachers, lawyers or ministers of religion. If you don’t know your purpose, then ask yourself these simple questions:

· What is it that I love doing? What brings me joy on my best days at work?

· What is it about that that is important?

· What is it about that that is important?

· What is it about that that is important?

Keep refining it until you get to 1-3 words that describe what you love doing. If you still struggle, make contact with us for a coaching session to help you discover it.

Value driven life

You may not know them, but each of us has some core values that drive us. For me, they are authenticity or integrity. You will most likely have different ones. These are the ‘how we operate’. Knowing our values enables us to know how we want to live and also helps us understand why somethings annoy us so much, because they are in conflict with our core values. For example, when I come across lies and deceit in leadership, it makes me angry. It rubs with my value of integrity. When someone is false or inconsistent, I find it frustrating. It rubs with my value of authenticity. Discovering your values, is simple. Get a list of values. Tick off those that you relate to. Then go through the ticked list and narrow them down to your top ten. Then narrow down to your top 3.

Over the last 6 weeks, I have loved listening to Trevor Waldock’s podcast of ‘Becoming Mandela’ following the themes of his book of the same name. In one of the podcasts and chapters of the book, he encourages us to consider not a New Year’s Resolution, but a New Year’s Value. I am going to rise to that challenge and have chosen ‘intimate presence’. I am going to take being wholly present with people I meet, live with and work with into 2022. In each situation, I will try to ask myself what does being intimately present look like in this situation? In doing so, it will shape who I am. What value could you focus on in 2022?


What are you good at? When we ask a question that open, it can seem bewildering. I love the ‘Strengthsfinders’ assessment by Gallup, as it helps people answer that question. When you know what you are good at you can focus on that. When you focus on that, it energises you. You can build a team around you for the things that don’t energise you but that they are good at. You can buy the book ‘Strengthsfinder 2.0’ use the code in the book for an online survey and it will tell you your top 5 strengths.

I am delighted that this month on the Leadership Lounge I will be interviewing Heidi Franklin, from Wild Play. She is someone who has discovered what she loves, is passionate about and utilises her strengths. Do tune in to hear how she discovered her strengths.

A dynamic identity

You could be tempted to think that when you find out these 3 things, that’s it. Job done. I know who I am. However, our identity is not static. There is a sense that who we are is past, present and future. The experiences that we have had in the past can shape us, if we choose to let them, into who we are now. This can be good and bad experiences and we choose how we let them shape us. But yet our identity is also future. Trevor Waldock in his book, ‘Becoming Mandela’ asks the simple question, ‘who are we becoming’? It is so easy to have a lazy identity. To just be who we are. In fact, a poor thinking mindset is to say ‘that’s just the way that I am’. It’s lazy because it doesn’t have to be who you become. It won’t just happen though, it has to be focused on, energy put in and shaped. Over Christmas, Facebook sent me a few of those ‘4 years ago’ posts. With one picture, I sat astounded as to how much fatter I was 4 years ago. I recognised that my weight loss has been a focused effort. I no longer wanted to be the overweight, out of breath Colin. A mindset change about diet and exercise and a lot of hard work changed me. But it is not time to sit on my laurels. There is more work to be done, both in terms of weight but also in terms of my character. Who do I want to become? What about you? What things have shaped you so far? Who do you want to become?

Can we help you?

I have seen complete empowerment when people discover their purpose, values & strengths. Our sample approach to helping you discover this can be covered in three 1-hour coaching sessions. So maybe start the year with some empowerment and meet with one of our Everyday Leader coaches to find out your purpose, values & strengths.

Give us a call if you would like us to help you explore this and empower yourself.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy. Do let us know if we can be of help to you.


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