When asked, “Who are you?” so many people answer with “I’m a student,” or “I’m a
mom,” or “I’m a teacher.” Often we answer this question with whatwe are and not
whowe are. The difference between the two is huge. Whatyou are is your work, your
position, your family standing. Who you areis much deeper. Yes, who you are involves
your work and relationships, but it is also the basis for your core, your foundation.
Who you are involves much more than your title as a brother, a mother, a nurse, a
mechanic, or a friend. Who you are involves your morality, your intellect, your spiri-
tuality, your emotions, your beliefs, your culture, your choices, and your dreams.
By understanding the difference between whatyou are and whoyou are, you can
truly begin to understand yourself on a distinctive and higher level. Few people are
willing to take this journey. Fear, time pressures, or lack of motivation may cause peo-
ple to avoid finding the answer, but finding out who you are can be one of the most
rewarding puzzle solutions in your life, and it can give you one of the competitive
edges you need to survive and thrive in today’s world of work.
Consider the puzzle in Figure 1.1. As you can see, youinvolves nine different
pieces. Understanding how each piece affects your actions, goals, relationships,
work ethic, and motivation can mean the difference between success and failure in
work—and in life. As you study the puzzle, consider your strengths and challenges
in each area. How does each piece drive your choices, and how does each piece help
you understand more about who you are? Are there pieces of the puzzle you have
never considered? If so, how has this affected your life in the past? At this time and
place in your life, which piece is the most or least important? Which pieces can you
use to gain a competitive edge, and which pieces need improvement?
As you look at each piece of the me puzzle, think about one strengthyou have
to offer in the workplace and how it will help you in the future. Then think about
one challengeyou will have to overcome for each piece of the me puzzle and how
you plan to do so.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Discovering Who You Are
Setting Yourself Apart and Finding Your Direction
College graduates are a dime a dozen, which does not mean, however, that you
are. Herein lies the challenge. How do you distinguish yourself from the
countless job seekers out there? What are you going to do that sets you apart
from your competition—and yes, there is competition, strong competition. What do
you have to offer that no one else can possibly offer to an employer? What unique
skills do you have to help you thrive and survive in an ever-changing world gone crazy
with outsourcing and technology? Answering these questions is the primary focus of
this chapter, and indeed, this book and the course in which you are presently enrolled.
In his book The 2010 Meltdown, Edward Gordon (2005) writes, “Simply
stated, today in America, there are just too many people trained for the wrong jobs.
Many jobs have become unnecessary, technically obsolete. . . or worse yet, the
job/career aspirations of too many current and future workers are at serious odds
with the changing needs of the U.S. labor market” (p. 17). However, you can still
have a very bright future, if you are well prepared. People who are highly skilled,
possess superb oral and written communication skills, know how to solve problems,
and can work well with others will be in high demand for many years to come.
Careers in the following areas are projected for high growth in the coming
decade. Health sciences (dental and medical assistants, home health aides, physician
assistants, medical assistants, occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc.);
aviation(airplane mechanics and air traffic controllers); skilled trades(plumbers, elec-
tricians, mechanics, etc.); teaching(K-12 and college); technology(aerospace and GPS
engineers, water and sanitation engineers, personnel in transportation services, sys-
tems analysts, programmers, interactive media designers, software engineers, desktop
publishers, etc.); and management, marketing, and public relations(business managers,
human resource directors, personnel in advertising and public relations, etc.).
This chapter will help you discover your unique qualities and characteristics
that can give you the competitive edge in today’s workplace. We offer 101 solutions
to the career and life development puzzle in this book. Ten solutions are discussed
here to get you on your way. More specifically, these ten tips will help you under-
stand more about yourself, your personality, your challenges, your emotions, your
strengths, your belief system, and, maybe most importantly, challenge you to write
your own personal Guiding Statement for your personal and professional life.