A man is not defined by his successes or failures, but how he conducts himself in the process.
How many men do you know who have either had a major success or a major failure? What was it about them that made them who they are today?
I can guarantee you it wasn’t the fact that they made their first million in business. I can guarantee you that it wasn’t how their marriage failed for the second time.
I can guarantee you it was how they handled themselves in the process of either success or failure that mattered most.
It doesn’t really matter which, because both success and failure are one in the same. They are merely indications of how we are going, what we need to change or adjust, and that is all. They are not statements about who we are.
So who are you? I’m asking the same question of myself these days.
Who am I? What makes me who I am? What I’m learning more and more, is that who I am is not related to what I do. It does affect how I approach what I do, and whether I show up as confident, calm, relaxed, or anxious, insecure and unsure. But in no way does it define me.
Am I my body?
The body is an amazing thing. It can heal itself from almost any illness. It can carry you to amazing places. It can give you sensation, pleasure, pain, and messages about what’s going on in different parts of the body. You need a body to experience life as a human.
But even in all its amazingness, your body is not who you are. It’s a vehicle, it’s a vessel to take you through life. Treat it well, respect it, look after it. But it is not who you are.
Am I my achievements?
Achieving something you’ve always wanted to do can give you a great sense of satisfaction.
I remember finishing my first and only triathlon. It was a great feeling. I remember getting that job I’d worked so hard for. I remember playing in a band, buying my first car, getting married to my soul mate, getting the opportunity to write for the Good Men Project.
But as nice as these things are, none of them are not who I am.
Am I my relationships?
This has been a tricky one, because it is so easy to define yourself by who you are with, and not know you’re doing it.
Walking down the street with a beautiful woman on your arm can make you feel proud.
Being a Dad, a friend, a work colleague can give you a great sense of belonging and meaning. Being married, partnered, hell even divorced, gives you an identity. But again, your relationships are not who you are.
Am I my past?
Your story is your story. We all have one. Your past is a collection of experiences, beliefs, actions, and behaviors that you engaged in to create the timeline of your life.
But your past is history. It is not who you are.
Am I what others say?
Other people’s opinions and beliefs about you can be powerful. But as my wife says, “what other people think of me is none of my business”.
What other people say about you has little to do with the person that you are.
Am I what I feel?
Emotions are powerful. They can tell us where we are at. They can be a great and accurate guiding force. They are indications of our current state of being. They can change from one moment to the next, from one song to the next, from one person to the next, throughout any given day.
But emotions are not who we are.
Am I what I think?
Thoughts at best, are information about how we feel, what we see, hear, think and experience. We can know a million different things about each other and about ourselves. Thoughts can help us communicate, understand and work shit out. But thoughts are not who we are.
So who am I?
If I am not any of these things, nor any other external thing or experience, who am I and why is it even important. Who you are is all about your essence. And to understand the essence of who you are is to understand your identity as a man.
When you can start to get clarity around your identity, you can start to show up in the world as your true authentic self, the person you truly are.
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