The “Who I Am” Exercise

The “Who I Am” Exercise

When asked to describe ourselves it is often the tendency to do so by stating the job we do or the role we play.  For example, I usually say when asked, “I’m a job search coach”, or another will say “I am a financial planner” or another will say “I am a college student”.  However when we do so, we are not really sharing the essence of who we are truly.

In my studies at IPEC (the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching), I was introduced to an exercise that I have used with a number of clients.  It comes in handy when a person is having a difficult time describing themselves or deciding which path they are looking to pursue.  It is an exercise which is not difficult to complete in terms of the number of steps involved, but can take some time since it requires a good deal of thought.

The exercise is known as the “I Am” exercise and works something as follows:

Identify the key descriptors of who you are.  Look to come up with as many descriptors as possible (they should be one or one to two word descriptors only), keeping the following thoughts in mind:

  • What are the 5 to 10 most important values in my life?
  • How would I describe the attributes I most like about myself?
  • What do other people admire most about me and the impact which I have on them?
  • What core beliefs about life serve me best?
  • What makes me unique and stand out?
  • What makes me feel most passionate, most satisfied, most fulfilled?
  • If I had to name one feeling I have most often, what is it?

Gather as many descriptors that you can about yourself.  Identify the top 5 to 10 of those descriptors.  Then convert them into nouns, placing them after the words “I Am”.

For example, you may have such sentences as “I am listener” or “I am comforter”.  As long as that which is captured matches to the essence of what you truly believe, you have done the exercise well.  That said, you may ask, where might this knowledge help me?  If introducing yourself to a new contact at a networking gathering, it may be incorporated into your pitch, especially in describing the attributes that you into the activities you enjoy doing.  It may be used to help describe you and your beliefs when promoting your business.  The “Who I Am” exercise may help you get to the core of your feelings when caught in an emotional situation with a close friend or a loved one and you are not sure what is truly causing your emotions to be negative.

The “Who I Am” exercise helps you in getting to know your true self better.  In a world where you often find yourself going from here to there in a hurried fashion or being distracted by all the stimuli around you, it may be just the oasis you need to get your life back into perspective.