Can you answer these questions clearly, concisely, and consistently?
- Who am?
- What do I do?
- Why does it matter?
If you can, you’re one of the few. If you’re like most people, these questions are extremely difficult to answer. You might have an idea, but the ability to clearly articulate that idea may escape you. Don’t worry. Honestly, almost every company I’ve asked these same questions fail to answer then too—at first.
Why These Questions Matter
This is the fundamental stuff on which everything else is based. However, most of us never stop to really think about it. I know I didn’t. It wasn’t until I started breaking down brands with clients when I grasped the importance of understanding really knowing yourself. I remember asking, “what does your company actually exist—really?” When they couldn’t answer that I knew we had to go back to basics.
What I learned from those experiences is applicable far beyond the business world. As it turns out, we have been socialized not to truly know ourselves. I definitely believe that recently our culture is more tolerant of people exploring the things that make us happy and allow us to be our authentic selves. Historically, though, we have been trained to ignore or suppress our inner desires in order to procure secure work and provide for families, often at the expense of our health, sanity, and health. Times have changed. We now live in a world where we have the ability to craft our identity far beyond “what we do,” race, ethnicity, etc.
However, new worlds requires new talents, skills, and understandings. The average U.S. citizen will have ten jobs before they retire (if they retire). 3 in 4 of us are actively seeking new employment. We no longer identify primarily with our work or companies. Understanding these facts will help solidify the important of being able to know why you exist in this world (and it IS important that you exist in this world), what you bring to the table, and why you are the person to bring it.
How To Answer Them
When answering these questions, it’s important to hold close your values. The idea here is to uncover your essence. “I am a copywriter” is NOT the correct answer to “Who am I?” “I am a person who values clear communication and bridging the gap between people and their needs” is a better response. Try asking yourself theses questions and see what you come up with. Don’t identify with your job. Identify with you. Think back to your childhood. What brought you joy. What could you do for hours that made you forget about everything else. What do these things uncover about yourself in yourself? Once you think you have a solid answer, challenge yourself to go deeper and get even more real.