what i can do is not who i am

Posted: January 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

There is a difference between what I can do and who I am. 

My dad has a favorite very brief lecture he likes to give.  It goes something like, “You don’t have to LIKE your job, you just have to do it well.”  This sentiment serves a person well, when they are in a position of needing to work a job that is not their passion.  Some of us have had to work a little while at one or more miserable jobs.  Some of you have worked a long time, with no plan of changing circumstances, at a job you detested. 

It goes like…you gotta have a job.  And this is the job you can find.  Or that provides the thing you think you have to have (pay rate, insurance, security, retirement benefit, whatever.)  In that case, my job is not who I am is a gift, and you can treasure that gift best by doing your job as well as you can and finding meaning elsewhere in your time off.  You don’t have to like your job.  You just have to do it well. 

Even in the jobs where I was miserable, though, there were elements of being able to walk in the fullness of *who I am* – and those were the joy zones in a field of yuck.  Below are some of the things that aren’t “what I can do,” but “who I am.”

I am a writer.  Duh.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  Figured I might as well open with the easy one.  I have written about this recently already:  I am a writer because I love writing, because even when I’m posting un-proofread blogs that I wrote while nodding off repeatedly into a dead sleep, even when it’s an embarrassing editor’s nightmare, I write for the love of it, and I always, always will.  So even at jobs I hated, I loved the parts where I got to do some writing.  I can work writing into almost any job.  And if you’re reasonably good at writing…people will let you do that, even if it’s a stretch for your job description.

I am a teacher.  Sure, I’ve got (or had) the certificate to say so and gotten paid a bit to do it along the way.  But that’s neither here nor there.  I have been a teacher since I was little.  I crave that process of showing others how.  When I watch or listen to any teacher, part of me is figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and how I might do it differently.  Give me permission to teach something and I’ll instantly start talking too loud, too fast, too high-pitched, waving my hands around and telling on myself about how excited I am.  “Teacher” is consistently my off-the-charts gift, when I take spiritual gifts tests.  If no one ever asked me to teach anything again, I’d still finagle a way to do it.  When I was a caseworker at the shelter, I was *not* a GOOD caseworker – sincere, yes, passionate, sure, trying hard, yup, but not good at it.  But when my boss let me teach the shelter clients a class on interviewing and resume writing and stuff…oh BABY I was so happy!  And, not to brag, but I was GOOD at that.

I am contemplative.  I like to sit long with a truth, turning it over and over.  I automatically wring out every experience to find the truth in it and soak it up.  I am aggressive in finding wisdom writers and stealing everything I can from them.  I am an all-the-time student of human interaction, working without realizing I’m doing it, most of the time, on exploring its framework and on how I might help someone else understand the elements they have not yet seen for success in it (yeah, “teacher” will probably intrude into more than one of these, cuz it’s just that big for me.)

I am a process improver.  I will happily let you teach me how something has been done and how one is *supposed to* do it…I’ll play along for sometimes a very long time, until I’m sure I’ve really grasped all the how’s and why’s.  And then…I’ll go to tinkering.  I believe that there should be a process or a protocol or a schedule for most everything we do, and it should be constantly re-examined and improved.  It should be written down, and made ever plainer and simpler, and available to anyone who needs to check it out.  I’m not afraid to tear up my process, destroy it completely, and start over, if I get inspired by a wholly better idea.  This has gotten me a whole lot of job promotions and appointments to positions I wasn’t necessarily seeking.  It’s a handy thing to be.

I am a learner.  I would take college classes for the rest of my life, if money were no object.  Happily, there are a TON of ways to keep learning without incurring student debt.  No one has to come and remind me or prod me to keep learning more.  I have to learn.  I hunger to learn.  There will never be enough learning to satisfy that hunger.  It’s who I am.  This, too, will get a person promoted even when they aren’t looking for said promotion. I suspect that “learner” is inextricably intertwined with “teacher” – how could it not be the case?

I am an encourager.  If you need me to tell you you are terrible, I will probably fail.  If you need me to lecture you and chew you out and put you down, you’re gonna be frustrated with me.  But if you need someone to really look at you, really listen to you, and then notice how much you are doing right and the ways that you are smart and the very commendable things about you and your untapped potential, someone who will know for sure that YOU CAN DO IT and won’t hesitate to tell you so…I’m your gal.  When I was a self-hating train wreck, this played out as only being a people-pleaser, but the more healed and whole I become, the more this gift opens itself and in truth, lately I’ve been pretty wowed by it.  Heck, here I am, even encouraging MYSELF with a blog like this one.  LOL 

I am a prayer warrior.  It’s a big deal to me, that He invites me to ask Him to do Big Stuff and Miracles and all that.  It’s really special to me, that I can run around secretly waging war against darkness and nobody needs to know all the details of how except for Him.  I actually believe He will often do things that are absolutely mind-bending, if someone will just find the faith to ask for it.  I will ALWAYS take the opportunity, when given it, to try and talk others into seeing their chance to do the same.  You can’t put that on a resume, but I promise you, it has been highly valued, almost (not quite, but almost) everywhere I’ve served. 

I love to create.  I don’t have some great artistic skill (I mean, as in “art,” not my writing) but I love to create.  Early on, an employer figured out that a way to reward me or bribe me or excite me was to ask me to create something on Microsoft Publisher.  Another employer caught on that I would twirl into the happy zone if I were given construction paper and scissors and rubber cement and Sharpie markers and invited to do the bulletin boards.  Thus far, I’ve not tapped into any ability to make gorgeous artsy things, but within my limits, I am OVER THE MOON about getting to do little creative projects. 

And last item, in my opinion the most important of them all…

I am open-minded.  i try to read something every day that I don’t agree with.  I try to really *hear* someone who I suspect is totally and utterly wrong.  I am willing to do my best to believe the best about others.  I am able (mostly) to not assume another’s choice is an attack on me.  I am bored, frustrated, and even angered by closed-mindedness…but even so, I poke around at it, trying to see if any element of it is something I need to consider.  Willing to let another be closed-minded, if that’s what works for them.  Not happily willing, but willing.  This is a very effective and helpful quality, both in a positive work environment (where growth can explode) and (especially, perhaps) in an unhappy work environment, (where it can be the difference between surviving and not.) 

So how about you?  Who are you?  Not, what can you do…but what are the things that really make you who you are? 

I’m dying to hear about it. 

  1. ‘Liked’ very much. Need to read again (not in before bed mode) – thought provoking… thanks!

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