Do You Know Who You Are No Matter The Context?

“I’ve been thinking about the difference between the ‘resume virtues’ and the ‘eulogy virtues.’ The resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills that you bring to the job market, and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being—whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful, what kind of
relationships you formed.”
David Brooks, The Road to Character

I spent last week with several professional colleagues at the Modern Elder Academy in Pescadero, Mexico (near Cabo San Lucas –– Baja California). Part of the purpose of the retreat was to discuss learning to be what the name implies: a modern elder who loves midlife. 

It was also to be with a group of author colleagues masterminding around our next books and projects. I wanted to become better acquainted with and connected to this cohort of people. It was all facilitated by a magical setting, one where the customer experience is off-the-charts (NPS score of 99). One of the founders is hospitality guru, Chip Conley, former founder of Joie de Vivre boutique hotels.

The great news is that these objectives were all achieved. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be there and do this work. It’s a gift that can continue to give; in fact, an endowment potentially, that can give in perpetuity, if I will do the follow-up work and make the investment for that to happen.

But, as is always the case, there was the unexpected to learn. I should know by now that something would come up. After all, I was at the launch point of a new S Curve, with people I don’t know well, in a new place, with new material.

So this was the surprise: Identity.

I know who I am within particular contexts such as my family, among my long-time friends, at my company, when I’m speaking, coaching, interviewing for the podcast, within my faith community, or with my neighbors. I know what role I play in those contexts.

But with this group, who was I? What’s my identity within this context? How would I show up? Would I show up? There were some moments of discomfort, awkwardness, and anxiety, too, wondering if I had a place. Do I belong? Most people feel this way in a new environment. When I did get feedback about how others saw me and the role I was playing in this group (not as the leader, but as a person on the team), I felt very different. I now knew my place. And, importantly, I had a better sense of who I am. Maybe that’s why people who have moved a lot throughout their lives can change faster because they can continually iterate and continually improve upon who they are. This is working; this isn’t. But also, “Oh, this is who I am.”

Importantly, this was a generous, wholehearted group. Not a single unkind word was said about any person all week. It was remarkable and wonderful. That’s my kind of ecosystem. Had we surveyed the ecosystem, it would have been rated very HIGHLY. These were people who not only had the great resume virtues; they had the eulogy virtues too.

Our podcast for the week is Shadé Zahrai. Shadé is a behavioral strategist, leadership coach, and the founder of Influenceo. She works to strengthen the leadership of companies with globally recognized brands, such as Microsoft and McDonald’s. As usual, there are lots of good insights. I hope you will join us.

My best,

P.S. Have you considered becoming a Certified Smart Growth Advisor? Individuals who become certified learn how to support others as they navigate growth and disruption using the Smart Growth™ model. Explore Disruption Advisors’ industry-leading certification program.

Click to access the login or register cheese