Who Am I?

Who are you? If self-actualization means that you reach your born potential, what will that look like for you? You are an utterly unique creation, born with a distinct set of talents, dreams, personality traits, and quirks. If you, through your experience of life, have suppressed that unique being, then you’ve disconnected from your powerful core. That core is a homing device, pointing you toward success as it’s defined for you alone. You have to reconnect with that “you” to find your ideal future.

In Let Your Life Speak, Parker J. Palmer wrote, “I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about – quite apart from what I would like it to be about – or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions . . . Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

Do you see how important this is? It means you mother was wrong, for one thing. You really can’t be “anything you want to be when you grow up” – at least not with any measure of success or happiness. If you were born with an innate caution, you don’t have a future as a NASCAR driver. If you’re exploding with creativity, you won’t be happy as an accountant. If your privacy is precious to you, you aren’t suited to a future as celebrity. No matter how strongly you believe it, how enthusiastic your friends are, or how many hours you stood in line in the heat, you really might not be the next American Idol.

While we are each unique, personalities can be broken down into four basic types, based on the elements. These designations go back to the time of Hippocrates, and understanding them may give you a handle on understanding your Self:

• Fire: Fire people are achievers. They look for respect, recognition and reward, and they are competitive. They do well as executives, athletes, entrepreneurs and blue collar workers.

• Wind. Wind people look for approval, attention and appreciation. They are team players, generous and talkative. They make good speakers, entertainers, teachers, politicians, salespeople, and ministers.

• Earth. Earth people need to be in control. They like organization, order and privacy. They expect procedures to be followed and a clear chain of authority. Good careers include accounting, medicine, administration and the military.

• Water. Waters ask “why?” They are intuitive, sensitive and compassionate. They are good listeners, and like to plan and figure things out for themselves. Waters make good artists, architects, writers, counselors and planners.

As they realize that they’ve been headed down the wrong (for them) path, some people experience a sense of let-down, or even a period of grieving. They’ve invested a certain number of years into a pursuit, and now are discouraged to discover that the pursuit was never for them in the first place! But if this happens, those feelings are soon replaced by a feeling of liberation and a sense of purpose. Struggling to achieve a goal that is wrong for you is like climbing uphill against the wind. Realizing that you’re going the wrong way and having to turn around might be momentarily discouraging, but you soon discover that you’re suddenly going downhill. You still have to expend effort and watch your step, but the wind is back, and, for the first time, you feel your self actualization begin to unfold.

Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation, leadership, and teams. His tools and methods have helped hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of people transform the ways they work and live. To learn more, visit www.theheroschoice.com.


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