I had the great pleasure of spending an hour with Larry Ackerman, author of The Identity Circle. Larry feels that identity strength–how well you know 1) what makes you special and 2) what you will work to achieve no matter what obstacles get the way–is key to your success.
However, discovering your unique, value-creating capacity is not that easy. You may devalue your core contribution by thinking that what you do naturally is not that great. Or you don’t spend time developing your unique potential when you are busy doing other things, like surviving or focusing on what you think you should be doing.
Larry says this truth applies to organizations as well as to individuals. People who run companies forget what formed their core identity, leaving the employees little to align their efforts around and hitch their passion to. Everyone should know what made the organization distinctive from the beginning and what special contribution they provide in the form of products or services. And they should be proud of this unique value proposition.
Step 1. One way of beginning to discover your “proprietary contribution” is to list your eight most important achievements in life. Start with as far back as you can remember. What are you most proud of from your grade school days? What special thing did you do as a young adult? What amazing things did you create or overcome in the past twenty years?
Put your accomplishments on index cards or PostIt™ notes, one per note. Then arrange them in a circle.
Step 2. Can you find the thread or theme that fits for each accomplishment? Look for the energy it took for you to reach your goals or the desire that fueled your sustainability. What circumstances were similar in each situation? Can you discover one strength, value, feeling or attitude for each achievement?
Step 3. Give your force a name or label. It could be as large as “breaking boundaries” or as sweet as “making connections.” See what comes up when you connect your dots.
This thread is your life force. When you express this thread, you achieve amazing things. If this thread is suppressed, you feel trapped or numb.
This life force is fundamental to your success in life. It forms the foundation of who you are. It gives you the power to stay on track no matter what.
This force never changes. You might express your identity differently in different situations and times in your life, but this energy and the need to express it is consistent.
What is your life force?
This is a simple exercise to introduce you to Larry’s work. If you like this exercise, check out www.theidentitycircle.com.