The identity of Who you Are and What you Do

All of those things are up to you. The question is, are you willing to take them on as your life’s true work?

Articulating who you are and what you do is powerful magic in getting you closer to the self-expression of unconditional Aloha and Nānā i ke kumu (sources-fed sense of self) you are most comfortable with, and hence, will be most willing to share with others.

Taken together, they become an identity you create for yourself, rather than accepting what others might think you should be.

I was gently reminded of this in the reading I chose lately (yesterday’s post), by this terrific visual image:

It’s good coaching. Accept your gifts first (Nānā i ke kumu), to then work with your gifts (Ho‘ohana), to then give your gifts to others (Mālama).

Author Carol Eikleberry says, “it takes courage to be yourself” and I agree, however I think it’s much harder to be someone else, someone you’re not. Harder and way less satisfying, possibly painful.

So what I mean by “articulating them is powerful magic” is this encouragement: Get more verbal about who you are as who you want to be. Say it in the words which will move you, and evoke your own, very personal, Language of Intention. For instance, I always remind myself that “I want to be the manager’s advocate when that manager has a true Alaka‘i calling rooted in his or her Aloha Spirit: I want to create great resources for them, readily available, practical and useful ones.”

It keeps me more focused, and less uncertain.

Begin with “I want__”

Even if you only say who you want to be to yourself in a quiet room, it will ground you in a personal courage that begins to grow larger, swelling with each time you say it.

You will continually edit your sentence, reshaping it in self-talking self-determination until that golden day you don’t hesitate to say it clearly for others to hear too, so that they in turn, begin to relate to you in that new way, replacing whatever ‘should’ they may have previously held for you, and becoming a better supporter for you — and possibly a partner too.

Don’t say, “I want to be a manager” or “I want to be a leader” and leave it at that, because those words aren’t specific enough, or descriptive enough; they don’t have enough emotion attached to them. To say, “I want to be an Alaka‘i Manager” probably isn’t descriptive enough either, because that’s my label more than yours — make it yours by adding a why to it: “I want to be an Alaka‘i Managers because_____________.”

Once you have your self-coaching statement of who you are intent on being, you can more easily work on articulating what you do, whether it is for you (accept your gifts), for your Ho‘ohana (work with your gifts) or for your ‘Ohana receivers (give your gifts).

“I like being different...”

Postscript: The graphic from Eikleberry shows a continuous circle because this is a process she says “creative and unconventional people” will constantly go through each time they identify a new talent or skill — one which excites them enough to go on a full career-shaping adventure with it. Here is the full paragraph which accompanies her image:

“A career adventure focuses on problems to which the answers are never final. As you embody conflicts and grow through them, you realize more of your potential; then, from a more mature perspective, you are again faced with the inevitable tensions that are part of being human. Creators often find themselves circling back, revisiting themes they have already explored, but with a greater perspective. (Small wonder that psychological growth is so often described as helical in shape!) There are always new gifts and new problems that emerge and need to be integrated, no matter how much development has already taken place.” — Carol Eikleberry

However please do not let that scare you! Embrace the adventure, and thrill to it. Look too, at the tulip above, and imagine yourself in the same way, rising above a sea of sameness to bloom in your own unique way.

And then be circular: Do it over, and over again with each new talent you decide to more fully express. I think this may be one of today’s greatest gifts to all of us, this chance we have to explore all our gifts, and not waste our full potential by dedicating all our work to just one career.


  1. Ricky says

    Very timely focus for the beginning of the new school year to those of us who are teachers. So wonderful to have help in connecting with and recognizing the shifting of gifts is a powerful message, and sitting quietly with clear intentional language to help focus on recognizing and coming to terms with the things you can and cannot change is invaluable advice. Thank you so much for this. For me, school begins with colleagues tomorrow, and students come back a week later. Now, if I can just remember to breathe…!

    • Rosa Say says

      So good to hear from you here on Talking Story Ricky! Thank you for the comment, and my Aloha to you for a magnificent school year. Your students will be blessed to have you as their teacher, coach, and mentor.