And I still haven’t found

What I’m looking for

(U2)

One of the fascinating things about being you (or me) is the opportunity to get to know who we are.

If that sounds a little strange, or if you are thinking, “actually, I can think of lots of more fascinating people I could get to know rather than myself WHO I ALREADY KNOW (doh!)”, consider this:

If you are between 14 and 25, you are either in the middle of, or at the end of, an educational process that has been designed to equip you with

  • understanding about all kinds of things
  • values
  • a sense of possibilities
  • boundaries

– all of which is useful and indeed vital stuff for the journey you are on.

The only thing to remember is that very little (or none) of it was designed or specified around who YOU most truly are. Everything you learned will be very front of mind for you now, and indeed a good deal of it will shape your contribution to the world at large in the years ahead. It just isn’t the whole story about you.

Let me anchor this with a couple of practical examples, lest we start sounding too introspective and alternative here; because what I am talking about is main-stream, practical and common to virtually every adult on the planet. In a nutshell, maturity is about learning to be at home with who you are as well as who you think you ought to be.

Example 1: You attend a school which puts high value on focussed study in pursuit of academic achievement; good students ask intelligent but never disruptive questions, they are too busy reflecting and analyzing so that they can write the best essay in the class. The pen is mightier than the lip. You embark on life as a thinker, low-key and slightly detached in your approach. Or at least, that is how you would like to see yourself, only there is this OTHER YOU who used to start arguments with teachers, and who even now gets frustrated and anything but detached when situations arise (especially when people beat around the bush) and who actually seems happiest leading a charge, rather than writing a report.

Example 2: All of your upbringing and education has been focussed on action, it is about getting stuff done and in on time, team games and burning energy in the pursuit of excellence. Don’t let people fool you with their shades of gray, learn to boil things down to their essentials and get on with it. So you embark on life, full steam ahead – only there is this OTHER YOU who gets stressed and even indecisive when there is isn’t time to think, who wishes the world would stop from time to time, who would appreciate a listening ear once in a while, and who gets impatient with impatient people.

What’s going on here? These examples aren’t meant to be a comprehensive view of the almost infinite possibilities, just a real world illustration of a very critical – for you and me – issue:

who I think I ought to be is important, but NOT the sum of who I am

If that doesn’t seem important to you, go back to the U2 quote at the top: very large numbers of people go through life guided by who they think they should be and never finding what they are looking for because they never learnt who they actually are (and were meant to be).

There are many levels to that question, “who am I?”, but hoozyu can certainly help you at least understand the question as it is framed in the two examples above:

  • I think I should be “the quiet reflective type”, but there seems to be an mouthy activist who keeps popping out – well that sounds something like Blue Usual and Green Needs on the Birkman Life Style Grid
  • I think I am action wo/man but I stress myself out with my endless running around; where’s a hug (or time to think) when I need it? Sounds something like Red Usual and Blue Needs.

Plenty of other combinations (and if you upgrade to Birkman Preview, MUCH more fine-grained detail available); but the fundamental point is this: how I would like to see myself (USUAL in Birkman terms) and what I need from the world around me (Birkman NEEDS) are a little (or significantly) different. For most of us, all our valuable learning and socialization draws us in one direction, but we will only be complete, integrated and effective people when we learn also to pay attention to the person beneath all of that. It isn’t about choosing one over the other, just about getting the whole picture.

Get to know that stranger in the mirror before you take them places.