Your Life Story in Your Wallet
I am an able being, more than capable of achieving all that I desire. I am the personification of drive, determination, eternal optimism and generosity. While I have taught myself to receive, my scales will always tip in favor of giving. I am love, vivacity, and the essence of unconditional possibility. On a daily basis I strive to live up to all that God created me to be.
I keep that definition of myself in my wallet. Although I’ve memorized it and use it as an affirmation almost daily, coming across it in my wallet always makes me smile.
Since I published The Why Is the Way, it's become a habit of mine to ask people for their self-defintions. As in: tell me what a dictionary would say if I looked up your name.
I do it at most of my workshops and events.
I’ve heard some beautiful words said in those moments of self-description. It’s one of my favorite things to hear. It's pretty common for people to have breakthroughs just using that simple exercise.
Know thyself, read an inscription at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Ancient advice; good advice.
As a coach, I’m a firm believer that I can’t take my clients anywhere I haven’t been myself. It keeps me honest; it keeps me pushing my own limits because that gives me permission to push theirs.
So it was only fair that I had to havemy own definition. Once again, the inscription doesn't read know themselves.
So many of us go through life committed to the stories others have of us. We never take responsibility for our own stories. Like theworldhandles the things that happen to us. Like the narrator is outthere and notinhere.
It's forgivable. After all, the stories are convincing. Parents, teachers, friends, strangers -- they contribute to the story we tell ourselves. They know us through our behaviors, and that's a pretty good indication of who we are out there.
But then what happens? We take it as fact. Ourinternalself surrenders to the things the world sees in us. We lose agency. What's worse is that, most of the time, we're acting on how we perceive that they see us. We rarely even think to ask.
I’ve had teachers who have believed in me more than I could have ever believed in myself. People like Coach Montgomery, Susan Yaskin, and Carmen Rodriguez, to name just a few.
I've also had teachers that didn’t think I’d amount to much. That's quite alright. It's our responsibility to feed the beliefs of the people who will support us, not hurt us. The names of those whodidn'tbelieve are lost to history. Good riddance.
I speak with so many people who have heard their parents say terrible things (or they’ve interpreted it that way) and they buy it like it’s the truth. If it's not yourtruth, it's usually not worth much.
So what stories are we telling about ourselves out there? What stories are we committed to?
When my son was away at college, he applied for a temporary position at Tilly's in Orlando. They were hiring for the seasonal rush and had 2 open positions.
The problem is that they did a group interview (I’d never heard of that before) and there were twenty people applying for two positions. As people went around the room introducing themselves, my son was thinking ‘how am I going to stand out?'
When it was his turn, he introduced himself with a South African accent. He told everyone that he was South African and had come to the states to study Creative Writing at UCF.
They loved it. They hired him on the spot. For the following three months, my son had to speak in that South African accent the entire time he was at work or would run into one of his co-workers in the street.
The managers loved him, the clients loved him. He got questions like ‘how does a South African wind up with Garcia as a last name?’.
"Well my father is Cuban but my mother was doing mission work in South Africa and they fell in love."
When his three months were up, they offered him a full-time position. He refused it. He did not want to be part of that story anymore. Now in that scenario, that was a story he made up, one he concocted. Regardless, it wasn'treal.
How many stories are we telling ourselves that aren’t real? How many stories do we make by picking and choosing what people might think of us? How often do we look inside and decide how we want to see ourselves? How about howGod, sees us?
Now that’s a hell of a story if you were able to look at yourself through His eyes.
Here's a little challenge for you: take a paper and a pen and start writing your own story. Take control of the pen because the truth is, no one else has authority to decide your story but you (unless you give them permission).
Don’t give them permission.
You deserve to write your own story and while we can’t control the beginning, we sure as hell can control how it ends.
So, as far as your definition I just have one question – what’s in your wallet?