In a recent interview on the Happen To Your Career podcast, when Scott Barlow asked me to tell a little about myself, I said, “You said I’m a CPA but that is what I do, not necessarily who I am. So I’m a Christian, a father, a husband…”
Even though I try to be intentional in everything I do, I was not intentional with this quote. It just came off the top of my head. I’m glad it did too. I work as a CPA and I thoroughly enjoy being a CPA. But that is not only who I am. Being a CPA does not describe the whole me. Thankfully, I’ve told myself, “Bert, you are not your job.” If I hadn’t, I may have answered that question differently.
I believe I have so much more to offer the world than just accounting skills. I have passions for more than just numbers and dollars. I am not my job.
Likewise, you are not your job.
Why do you act like you are your job? We typically always treat people as if their jobs define them.
Think about when you meet someone new. After telling the person your name, what is the first thing you typically say? It is either, “What do you do?” or “Who do you work for?” If that is the first thought that comes to mind, then we define others by their jobs.
You are not your job.
Hopefully you provide value through your job. You hopefully even know your company’s purpose. But that does not mean that job should define you.
The hotel clerk that checked me in tonight at the hotel is more than a hotel clerk. While I’m thankful for her efficiency in checking me in and the value she and the hotel provide me this week, I do not think of her as the hotel clerk. I think of her as a person who happens to work in the position of a hotel clerk.
I did not ask but I’m confident she has other aspirations and passions in her life besides working at the hotel. Just as you are not your job, neither is she.
How to make it so you are not your job
Would you rather be known as a lawyer or as a caring father? What about a CPA or a Christian? You can have a profession and be something else. That is an okay thing to be. It may be socially unacceptable, but you can do it.
After you tell someone you meet what your name is, don’t follow that with the typical job/career/company response. Be different. I could say, “I’m a Christian first, and a husband to an awesome woman and we have three daughters. I work in risk management and help people achieve happiness in their careers.”
Does the first part sound cheesy? Yes, it does. But why does it? It only sounds cheesy because it’s not a typical response.
Maybe you could respond with, “I’m a lawyer by day and I’m proudest of being a superhero to my kids.” Now that is a response.
Do you want to continue believing you are your job or start believing you are not your job? It’s really up to you. No one else can make that decision for you. If you do want to start believing that you are more than your job, please comment below with what your initial response would be to the “What do you do?” question.