Why You Should Never Attach Your Identity To What You Do

Males especially are particularly vulnerable when it comes to this subject matter.

It has a lot to do with our male ego.

What’s the first thing that males ask each other when they meet?

‘So what do you do?’

We then begin to respond with the job, the business, the project or whatever else we ‘do’ – and this is what defines us. Or that’s what we think.

We may just as well ask… ‘So what do you make? (in dollars that is)  as if that is what also defines us.

Personally, I would rather know ‘who you are’ than ‘what you do’.


In My Mid Twenties I Went Into Business

In my mid twenties I went into business with a relative of mine and found myself in the position of a director of a multi-media company.

However, as the years passed I discovered that the direction my relative was taking the company (who happened to be 6 years older than me) was a direction that I could no longer support.

So I resigned.

The problem I then faced though stemmed from the fact that I had allowed my identity to become intimately and inextricably entwined with that business. It was who I was, and I had poured so much of my heart, my soul, my finances, my all into its creation – that when the business was removed from my life I suddenly lost my personal identity.

I Became Violent

I became depressed, angry and even (I am ashamed to write) violent. Not against those whom I felt had betrayed both my family and I – but I actually became violent against the very ones I loved – my wife and my young children.

I was so frustrated with my circumstances that I became an eruptive volcano that could explode unpredictably at any moment.

I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what to do, who to go to, and how to re-forge a new identity.

When people asked me what I did I couldn’t give an answer, and it just made me angrier.

My life had been derailed, detoured, and at that point I was convinced that it had been utterly destroyed.

At the height of my anger I found myself raging around my house while my wife and three young children (they are now young adults) took refuge in our bedroom – all huddled together on our bed.

My Wake Up Call

When I entered the room, there were the four people whom I deeply loved hugging each other for protection, their eyes filled with fear.

I stopped in my tracks.

I immediately left the scene, stormed outside and gave myself a stern talking to – ‘Peter, if you keep going the way you’re going, you’re going to lose everything – even those who love you so deeply’.

I then returned to my family transformed – sought their forgiveness, and peace finally reigned within our household.

Never again have I attached my self-worth or my identity to what I do – and the things (or people rather) whom I am most proud of are my beautiful wife of more than 28 years and my three children.

Business, fame, wealth come and go, but family is forever.

You & I Are Defined By Who We Are – Not What We Do

So whenever I meet someone for the very first time I never ask the question, ‘So what do you do?’

I ask this: ‘So how do you keep yourself busy each week?’

Personally, I am not impressed or unimpressed by what people do or even by what people make. I would rather get to know who you are – for it is who you are that I wish to inspire to be the best you possible.

You are a worthy human being – no matter what season you find yourself in.

Whether you have a job, are between careers, own a business or are owned by a business, are a bankrupt, or find yourself in a place where you are still trying to work out what you’re going to do when you grow up – remember this one thing: what you do makes no difference.

It’s who you are, and also know this – that you are loved, respected, worthy and talented.  You are brilliant, one-of-a-kind, magnificent, and bursting with potential.

Your best days are before you because you are unique, and you are YOU.

So let me ask you one question though: how have you overcome your own personal identity crisis?


Motivational Memo: Be proud of who you are, for you are not defined by what you do.



Peter G. James Sinclair is the author of the Personal Success Blueprint, a free report you can download instantly to learn how you can unlock the secret to your own personal success. You can access the report from here – http://www.selfdevelopmentmastermind.com

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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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