Who You Are Is More Important than What You Do

 

Who are you? Many of us struggle to answer that simple question. The immediate response most give is to describe their job. “I’m an accountant,” “I work in the sales division of my company,” “I am a coach.” But that’s not the question. What we do is not who we are and it’s normal for people to get the two confused.

It takes time and commitment to do the deep work of really knowing who we are.

To become someone others believe in and in order to live with integrity, you must know the deeply held beliefs that drive you. What are the values, ideals and standards that make up the essence of who you are inside? When these things become clear, you will have the courage to live them. photo_man_suitandtie copy

Performance Driven vs. Principle Driven

A person who is performance driven is focused on results. It’s all about what they do and what they accomplish. How well they do on a task speaks to them about their value. For example, If I excel on a project (or for kids, if I excel at sports, school, music etc.), then everyone loves me and I get all kinds of positive attention. If I fail, or don’t do well, then it seems like others don’t value me as much. The internal message is that I am only as good as how I perform. People only care about me when I’m a winner so I become addicted to activity.

People in this category typically complain that their lives are out of balance, they don’t have time for anything and they are burned out. Their relationships are shallow and fractured. There is little margin for personal reflection and spiritual awareness and they cope by withdrawing or staying excessively busy and distracted. I know this type of person well because this is my propensity and it’s exactly where I found myself a few years ago. It was miserable.

I learned to value myself by results and performance as a child. Many of the messages we’ve come to believe get handed down to us from our childhood. Whether our caretakers knew it or not, they taught us how to value ourselves and those internal messages took deep root.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Plato

The truth is that we are all driven by results on some level. But how results affect a person who is centered on their principles (who I am) is much different. Results are simply what they do, it doesn’t define who they are.

When you are principle centered you have a deep sense of gratitude about your life and your gifts. Therefore you steward those gifts in the best way you can and you see them through your values (which you can learn more about here.) They shape you they don’t define you. Who you are is more important than what you do.
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Your Character Matters More than Your Success

 

This post is not a, “How to,” it’s a, “How to Be.” What’s happening inside of you, your character, is more important than anything else you can pursue. Success doesn’t matter if you put your character on the back burner. The news is filled with stories of leaders who have ‘gained the world’ but have failed miserably in that department. photo_family_beach copy

Here’s an example of what I mean. Many people on the internet are looking for legitimate ways to “change their lives,” and that’s a noble pursuit. What do you typically see? People writing about, “How to Make More Money,” “How to Build Bigger Email Lists,” or “How to Have the Job of Your Dreams as a Writer,” etc.

I’m not at all criticizing those programs. There are many great ones out there. But they are missing something very critical to a successful life and it’s this: It’s not what you do, or what you accumulate that matters, It’s who you are becoming.

It doesn’t matter if I have all of the money and influence in the world if I’m not living for the things that matter most to me. If I’m not becoming a better person, a better father, a better husband and more inspirational leader, my pursuits will eventually turn up empty. I’ve failed in these areas before in my life and it was painful.

The Internal vs. the External

As I’ve coached a number of CEO’s over the years, many find themselves internally bankrupt. They’ve achieved high levels of success but when they climbed to the top, there was nothing there. They lived their lives for EXTERNAL things (money, fame, power, control) and did little to focus on the INTERNAL things, (purpose, meaning, values, vision). It’s a common mistake on the road to success.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Please listen carefully to me, the way to achieve REAL success in life, is to spend serious time building your character and crafting what’s on the inside.

An externally driven person focuses on ego and the things that need to be acquired to satiate their ego. It’s all about what they can do to get their needs met. Whether they like it or not, these leaders often see others as a means to an end.  (more…)