Blog #57 When Who You Are is Measured By What You Do

Posted on : 17-05-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized


So here’s the cliffhanger question that has been slamming my spiritual program up one wall and back against another: What is it that you do that shows others who you are?

I rolled around the idea of letting who I am show through what I do and realized that is much different than saying what I do is who I am. To my way of thinking, letting who I am show through what I do encompasses every aspect of any action I take in life (walking my talk) but doing something (and more specifically a job) just for the sake of “showing” who I am seems to me to be more of an ego structure.

Early in my training for becoming an adult, the message that came across very clearly to me was that what you do defines the who in you. Couple that with my very deep need to be recognized and acknowledged and you pretty much come up with a mud-pie of a person who is hell bent on doing, doing, doing to get seen, heard, and recognized. One obvious hiccup with that strategy for life is that when you live your life that way you can rush right past thinking about who you really are and how you want to be in life.

My next phase in growing up was to ratchet down my doing to learn how to better “be” who I am. I’ve done it for the past year as I’ve returned to school and although I’ve done some coaching, I’ve pretty much been working a part time job to pay for my Starbuck’s habit. I’ve learned a lot about myself concerning my preferences and beliefs, which I am grateful for; but, geese louise is it hard for me to not gage my worth by what I do.

And now I’ve come full circle and although I believe that what I do shows (me) others who I am, the meaning is completely different now then it was many years ago. One of my favorite short stories is, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexi which is about a native American in the Seattle area who is homeless and an alcoholic. At the beginning of this character’s day he stumbles upon his grandmother’s feather dancing costume in a pawn shop and, of course, he doesn’t have the money to get it out of hock. Well, the pawn shop owner takes pity in Jackson and gives him some money and tells him to go get $1000 and he’ll sell it back to him. So the whole story is how Jackson spends that first $30 for bottles of whiskey for three of his friends and himself and then he finds someone else to give him money and back and forth with his drinking it up and getting more money until at the end of the story he ends up with just $30, which is the same amount when he began. So when the store owner asks Jackson if he has the $1000, Jackson tells him no and that he has $30 but it’s a different $30 then the pawn broker gave him that morning. Because of Jackson’s great story, the pawnbroker sells him the costume for the $30.

I share that story with you because just like how Jackson started off with $30 and ended up with $30, the money that made up the $30 was different so is the case of believing that what I do showing who I am…only the “do” is different. As some good friends and I like to say,”It’s the same, only different”.

How do you show others who you are by what you do?

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