If you were to build a house, you would need a solid foundation. Equally, to build a life, you would need a solid foundation. We take the time seeking and searching because we are supposed to keep moving forward; however, searching for what? We know we are on a journey, but it gets frustrating because we are doing, but not sure of relevancy and how it applies because we are not quite sure what we are supposed to be doing or who we are. It feels like kayaking against the wind. For every 10 paddles you do to move forward, you sometimes are only ½ a boat length forward because of the wind. You have put so much effort and you see the shore, but it feels so far away and it seems to outdistance us. Another example is trying to build a wall unit out of the box and all the pieces around us but there are no instructions. We know that everything I need is here but how do they all fit together?!
Actually, the answers do lie within but we might have not taken the time to consider them. One must go through life exploring, trying and experiencing, that is a given; however, if you have not taken the time to understand who you are, how do you know how these things will matter? One way to do this is to create a reference point and have five key words. If you pull five key words as your foundation, you now have something to compare your experiences and exploration against. I ask for five key words and not any more or less because it provides enough scope to allow a good comparison and if you have taken the time to better appreciate and understand yourself because of your five words, you can see if anything you try hits 1 out of 5, perhaps 3 out of 5…well, if it hits only 3 out of 5, what am I missing that makes it 4 out of 5. If you can hit 5 out of 5, congratulations, you will not have a job or career, you have fulfillment!
Now how does one even come up with five words? Look around you and what have tried up to this point? What sticks and makes sense to you and what does not? It is time to get reflective and deep thinking on this. Ask yourself ‘why’. When I tried something in the past, ‘why’ did it matter or ‘why’ did I do it? It is not about surface level responses but to keep asking yourself ‘why’ and explore. Start pulling words and putting them down and look at these words. Do they make sense? Are they reflective of you? What is important to know here though is that you are not sentenced to these words for the rest of your life. You can change them any time you like and replace them with other words that, through exploration, make better sense for you. By starting the process, you have a reference point that continually gets refined.
Earlier I said that you are not stuck with these words. Recently, I revised my list as I felt that I needed to re-evaluate my life and list. My words in the past were:
• Leadership – looking for ways to engage myself and get others inspired
• Public speaking – Appreciate being able to share myself
• Corporate and community relations – building relationships and representing an organization
• Student development – students matter and I need to help this audience with what I have developed
• Storytelling – enjoy building and sharing stories
Well, after thinking about it, I have decided to change my words to:
• Leadership – still asked to work on projects and to be someone who engages
• Story sharing – feel the need to incorporate public speaking to story sharing. Story telling was me telling but I feel sharing is more two way
• Corporate and community relations – I still enjoy building and representing organizations
• Student development – students still matter to me on a significant scale
• Community do gooder – I felt that my commitment to community was not as represented as I have been and that this needed its own place as a word.
So I can take words and blend and pull together. When I feel like it, and I have done this before, I can change my words but I need to have a strong and compelling reason to do it. I can articulate why these words are important and if I ask people, they say that the previous five words and these five words are reflective of me. This also allows me to see how I might have done something in the past and it did not feel right because it was missing a word or two. The past is a valuable way of coming up with your current five words.
This all takes time and you can’t just sit down today and hammer out five words. Do not pressure or force yourself to these five words. No, this takes careful consideration and time. Start with a word that might make a bit of sense to you, consider it, look at it and feel it. Is it a word for you, or from that word, does another word emerge? What have you done in the past and start considering why you did it and does that help you to figure out a word? Now you have a word, ask yourself ‘why’. Why did I choose this word and why does it matter. Once you answer that, ask yourself…why is that response important? And then answer that question and keep asking why to your answers till you know that it is one of your words. Eventually, you will have five words and you must live those five words and this now becomes your brand. You wear these words and people can easily say that those are reflective of you.
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