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Authenticity Learning Life Reflection Self awareness

What’s your word?

“Who are you,” is a fantastic question. Because we often identify ourselves with what we do, not who we are.

Italy. India. Indonesia (Bali).

No, those are not my holiday destinations for 2024. They’re also not countries where my latest clients have their headquarters (I wish).

Do you know what these three have in common, except that all three start with the letter I?

Hint: all three countries play a role in one movie.

The movie’s title is “Eat. Pray. Love,” and it stars Julie Roberts, who is on a journey to discover herself after a few relational mishaps.

The movie is based on a book that is a true life story. 

We watched it last weekend because we were in Bali recently and thought it would be nice to see the movie (again).

Although I don’t recall seeing it before. 

Anyway, there’s a story in almost everything I see, hear, or do, and this movie had two moments worth remembering.

The first is a quote.

“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

This quote is at the essence of all change.

If there’s no ruin, there’s no transformation. 

If you want to see things change, find your ruin. Find your burning platform. Without a burning platform, people won’t move. 

This is a mistake many leaders make. They want to see change, but they need help to make it clear to the masses why change is necessary.

The second moment was when an old medicine man, Kutuk, asked Julia Robert’s character what her one word was to describe who she was.

Who are you? In one word.

She answered that she was a writer. 

“I’m not asking you what you do; I’m asking you who you are,” Kutuk replies.

She has no answer.

Do you have an answer to this question?

The movie character does not find her one-word Italian answer until the last shot in the movie.

“Attraversiamo.” “Crossing over.”

“Who are you,” is a fantastic question.

Because we often identify ourselves with what we do, not who we are.

I learned that lesson the hard way when I left my corporate role. I had been Senior Vice President for many people, not necessarily Erikjan.

Once I was Erikjan again, I was suddenly less interesting for some. Sad, but true. That’s how our world works. Our jobs, titles, experiences, and wealth define us. But not necessarily by who we are.

Understandable, but still a bit sad.

So, who are you in one word?

I gave the question 24 hours of my thoughts. And then I concluded that my one word for who I am is: 

Aware.

For fun, I looked up what “aware” is in Italiano.

Consepavole.

Call me Con!

Then, I went a little further to pay tribute to my word and look for the etymology of the word Consepavole.

It comes from the Latin words con and “sapere.” “Con” means with, and “sapere” means to be wise. 

To be wise with. 

I’ll take it.

It’s a proper descriptor of who I am. I’ve always been curious. I’ve always been somebody who loves to learn and grow. And at 55, I continue to learn and grow every day.

So, I grow more aware of who I am and how I impact others daily. 

That’s how a relatively innocent rom-com movie on a Saturday evening can turn into an insight you have now in your inbox.

Your turn: Who are you in one word?

Do more of what makes you happy!

Erikjan

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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