Coaching, Reflecting, Staying Curious, Writing

I am what I am and am not


I seem to have been in a number of conversations of late about qualifications and accreditation, about being good enough and owning what you are and what you know, about over-claiming expertise or being over-attributed expertise to the extent it gets awkward. About confidence or feeling like an imposter. About arrogance and certainty. About humility and uncertainty.

So I’ve been thinking about what I am & what I’m not. In no particular order, I might be these:

ENFP, Monitor Evaluator, Level A&B qualified. Can’t remember what I am in Hogan, Insights or Facet 5 but I’m something in each, ILM5 qualified coach, CIPD member.. (not quite got round to the whole Fellow bit yet), L&D-er, OD person, RSA Fellow, Qualified Wine taster, Swimming medals at school. Some O-grades, Highers & SCS, MA English & Sociology, MSc Organisational Change, wannabe PhD, wannabe triathlete, terrible knitter, white, Scottish, female, plus-size, blonde, daughter, sister, aunt, Godmum, step-mum, friend, colleague, mentor, blogger, Capricorn,winter-baby, born in a Chinese year of the Tiger…..

And I’m thoughtful about that list – what will people think of me? Am I being boastful? Too much information? Indulgent? And the doubt or fear-of-judgement could paralyse me….

I am all of these at times and none of them.
I can be good and bad at each; relaxed or defended about each.
Any of these things can be useful or useless.
Any can be interesting or really dull.
Any of these might make you think a thing about me, attribute a quirk to me, elevate, denigrate or just ignore me.

I can’t control how you react to my stuff.
Labels, qualifications, certifications mean what they mean in the context I’m in.
What I try to do is work with that.

I am the sum of my experiences, the places I have been, the conversations I’ve had, the way I have moulded myself and been moulded by others
I am constantly changing, responding, reacting, learning, evolving.
At a cellular level, I change every day. Potentially I am never fixed, just fluid….. but that kind of freaks me out.

Where is the solidity?

The best I can do with it all is be the best person, the best human I know how to be.
To be kind when I can.
To admit to my limits & try to push them.
To try to live and practice truthfully and authentically.
To learn my craft well and work to Do No Harm.
To call it as I see it & know that’s as wrong as it is right.
To acknowledge my flaws and my failures and know that (and be curious about why) these are not the things that appear on the list above. Yet to get to the list above (other than the ethnicity/ family/astrology bit, which is kind of a circumstance of birth) believe me, there is a much bigger, longer list of “arse ups on a grand scale”.
To not be too afraid or ashamed of the arse-ups.
To work to not repeat them too often.

I suppose, it’s mostly this, for me: Go for it. Try stuff. Learn. Get qualified if you need or wish to.
Earn your labels.
Or learn to own your labels.
Or don’t earn your labels, make your own.
Then wear them as lightly as silk – because they will keep you about as warm and are about as likely to get moth-eaten or torn.

And daily: work to own and appreciate who you are and what you are, the sum of your parts, because you live with yourself 24/7 and it’s probably for the best if you get on with yourself….

Mind you… if you only get on with yourself, you might want to think about that too….

10 thoughts on “I am what I am and am not”

  1. There are some of that list I find myself wanting to challenge you on! Wannabe triathlete? Didn’t you do one already? That in my book makes you one 😄
    I believe we are all things…. there is nothing we are not… The fortunate thing is we get to choose what we bring to the fore ..

  2. One cannot be all things to all people – however one can be just one someone needs at just the right time. You are this to many and hopefully many people are this to you. Celebrate the diversity of all that you are (and you missed off pretty darn good cake baker, excellent red wine collaborator, thoughtful challenger of bullshit) the more we get to be the more we get to experience.

    Also, some days it’s ok to be just you.

  3. It is said that without context we know nothing. This is probably most true when it comes to our great variety of identities and personae. We shift and morph in response to contexts. Somewhere, there is a core, but this too is a work in progress. Thanks for a great post..

    1. Oh I like that.
      And yes. Of course I can… and I do at Starbucks, honest I do – no deconstructive navel gazing there…..
      and Julie means something to me & something else to someone else.
      I’m also Jools & J….

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