Last week I posted Episode 31 of my show with special guest Steve Rosenfield. I got to know Steve through my participation in his What I Be Project when he was in Portland recently.
Steve left his corporate job a few years ago to pursue a life and career with more meaning and adventure. And his recent experiment with photography has turned into a global movement about honesty and empowerment.
Today, Steve travels all over the country helping people bring their insecurities out in the open, and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before.
By stating, “I am not my_______,” people are claiming that they do in fact struggle with their insecurities, but it does not define who they are as a person. They are not denying their insecurity, they are owning it.
The What I Be Project is all about spreading awareness of what people go through due to society’s established notions of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. These are serious issues that some of us can live with, but most of us battle on a day-to-day basis.
Enter my participation in Steve’s project.
I cautiously enter Steve’s makeshift studio space. After some small talk, Steve jumps right to the point. He calmly asks me; “Michael, if you were to walk into a room of 40 strangers, what’s the one thing that you wouldn’t want to share with them?”
I’m thinking to myself, WTF kind of question is that?
A little more discussion ensues and then I start to open up a little bit. Steve has a knack for making me feel comfortable right away.
I start telling Steve how I’ve spent the last 14 years working in different corporate jobs because I feel like I’ve been expected to do a certain kind of job and make a certain amount of money.
Then I tell him that I’ve spent the last 8 months starting a business where I help unhappy and uninspired employees start purpose-driven projects.
And then it hits me.
I realize that I feel unqualified in my new role. I’ve been holding back because of what others might think of me.
After all, my new role doesn’t fit into a socially revered title like doctor, lawyer, accountant, or even software sales guy.
My new profession is something that’s being created as I go. It’s a business that’s literally being developed one step at a time and it’s not something that fits neatly into a predefined category.
I suddenly realize how much I’ve allowed myself to be defined by my past work and now there’s no clear boundary, no complete definition that describes what I do. In one, brief and unsuspecting moment, I’m finding this to be equally terrifying and exhilarating.
All of a sudden I began to question what I’m doing.
Why did I choose this path? What was I thinking? Am I really helping anyone? Am I making life harder on myself than it needs to be?
Then the truth comes shining through.
“I am not my Profession.”
I am not defined by the work that I do. I am someone that loves other people and wants to help them understand that they can choose their path and create something brilliant, something totally unique that only they can create.
And I am trusting and moving forward…despite feeling unqualified at times.
I am shifting from the corporate guy who once worked to please others to someone that leads others to the work that they can’t not do.
I am not my profession. I am much more.