Shape Your Identity

I found this interesting article and thought to share with you


“Keep your identity small.” — Paul Graham

“Identity” has become somewhat of a dirty word, especially in Silicon Valley circles. In many minds, the word “identity” goes hand in hand with the word “politics”; a divisive tool used by politicians to win voters by appealing to religious or ethnic affiliations.

YCombinator founder Paul Graham even wrote an essay about the importance of keeping your identity small. Once your identity is threatened, he reasons, you become defensive and resistant to change or even dialogue. Thereby, non-collaborative and non-productive.

I agree that challenging someone’s identity can trigger defensiveness, but the answer isn’t to pretend that identity doesn’t exist.

 


Identity is a core and unavoidable part of all our lives. Our actions shape our identity, and in turn, our identity shapes our actions. Trying to pretend that identity doesn’t matter may make you feel better about yourself, but it won’t affect how others see you, and how their perceptions shape their actions.

The great irony is that many of those who, like Paul, advocate the suppression of individual identity aren’t shy in advocating the construction of strong corporate identities and brands. Whether you’re an individual or a company, identity matters.

I believe that each of us should be thoughtful, proactive, and rigorous about our own identity. Focusing on and answering a few key questions will allow you to shape your identity and thus your life to better meet the expectations you have of yourself.

 


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