Are you still adding to your identity?

We all have multiple identities that form our self construct. When you were young they were simple. You were a boy or girl. A son or daughter. Maybe a brother or sister. Or perhaps you saw yourself as a Bo, Luke, or Daisy.

As you grow, evolve and participate in more activities you add identities. You become a student, a girl scout or a baseball player. Throughout your schooling and into your career your identities expand and multiply in interesting ways. All of which morph your self construct, without the need for hallucinogenics.

Your identities influence how you see yourself. But they also determine how the world sees you. Your identities help broaden your self-image and give you more flavor, complexity and stability.

I’m a father, adventurer and Corn Palace visitor.

Here’s a partial view of my identity stack:

  • Father
  • Husband
  • Son
  • Brother
  • Uncle
  • Friend
  • Christian
  • Entrepreneur
  • Creative
  • Marauder
  • Badger
  • Dude ( I recently entered this when asked for my gender)
  • Vermonter
  • Wisconsinite
  • Adveritisng professional
  • Blogger
  • Patriots fan
  • Bucks fan
  • Red Sox fan
  • Perpetually but non-offensively immature
  • Exerciser
  • Initiator
  • Problem Solver
  • Homeowner
  • Adventurer

Adding Identities

In the past year, I have added a surprising number of new identities to my self-concept. Especially for a seemingly full-grown human.

Coach

Before last spring I would never have called myself a coach. Despite the fact that I coached a youth flag football team for 3 seasons. That just felt like the type of coaching that non-coaches do because the kids need a coach to be able to have a team. In other words, I simply identified as a dad doing some coaching. It’s like a dad playing the role of a chaperone, instead of adding the identity of bodyguard, or animal tamer.

But last spring I became a legit high school track and field coach when I started coaching the shot put and the discus for Homestead High School’s girl’s track and field team in Mequon, Wisconsin. In fact, 2 weeks ago I attended an all-day and all-evening event for track and field coaches in Madison. That really made me feel like I should walk around with a whistle or a stopwatch around my neck. Although you don’t really need either of those things to coach the shot put.

This was my best day of coaching. All 4 of my athletes threw their best ever. And I wore the shortest socks I own.

Then, last fall I began coaching youth tackle football. That was a multiple-times per week thing. With real strategy, conditioning and hype. I have a logoed polo, a hat and a picture of me and other coaches and 16 boys in full uniform looking very serious together to prove that I am now also a youth football coach.

Me and Magnus after our last game of the season. We played on turf, which is why neither of our uniforms are dirty or grass stained.

Author

The week before Christmas I published my first book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Now, I add author to my self-identity. Despite the fact that I have been a blogger for nearly 7 years, author feels different. It’s more official, more difficult to attain. More respected by others. And authors get asked to sign their books way more often than bloggers get asked to sign their blog posts.

The time my first book emerged from its brown, paper Amazon cocoon. (As seen on the table.)

It’s hard not to add the author identity when the internet adds it for you. Here is how my online footprint has expanded since I published my book:

  1. If you search my name at Amazon.com you will find my book here.
  2. Beyond carrying my book, Amazon has an Adam Albrecht Author Page which you can see here.
  3. My publisher, Ripples Media also feature’s an author page which you can see here.
  4. There is a website for the book here.
  5. I also have a Boothy set up for giving online book talks that you can find here.

Speaker

The other surprising new identity that I have added to my self-construct is Speaker. I have done a lot of public speaking throughout my life. Over the past couple of decades, I have seen myself as a business professional speaking about what I do or things I know. But now it feels different.

Me speaking to a round table at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Here I am demonstrating the starting position for juggling watermelons.

Since I published the book I have received many requests to speak at local, state and national events. I have booked 6 speaking engagements in the past couple of weeks. It is an exciting and enjoyable new addition to my self-identity. And it helps me spread more positivity and inspiration with the world. Like Jonny Fortunecookieseed.

Dog Owner

As if all of this wasn’t enough, at the end of January I also got my first dog ever. Now I add dog owner or dog haver or whatever this makes me to my life resume. It may seem like a small thing compared to the attention you receive as an author, entrepreneur or public speaker. But when you come home to that wagging tail and face licks it is special. And when I am picking up dog poo, it’s hard to deny that I am a real Dog Dad.

Key Takeaway

Adding to your self-identity keeps you growing and evolving. More self-identities not only make you more interesting and creative, they add to your stability and resilience. Multiple identities help expand your social circle. They expand your reach and influence. The more identities you have the less likely that any one of them has the ability to negatively impact you. Conversely, the successes you experience in any identity helps to add to your overall self-esteem. All while making you a more interesting and valued contributor to your family, friends, communities, and planet. So go on with your bad selves.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

You need one of these 3 things to maximize your carreer.

I have thought a lot about my professional career lately. Writing a book about the most important lessons you’ve learned in life will do that to you. And it’s far more enjoyable to reflect on your career because you are writing a book than because you are on your death bed, thinking about what you would have done differently. Although the death bed reflection involves far less proofreading.

Career Path

While writing, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say, I have examined my career path and the forces that have influenced it. The short story is that I started my career at the bottom of the advertising ladder, as a junior copywriter. (Although truth be told, I have never actually seen the professional ladder. Or the Emporer’s new clothes. Or a snipe.)

My professional titles progressed as follows:

  • Junior Copywriter
  • Copywriter/Producer
  • Senior Copywriter
  • Associate Creative Director
  • Creative Director
  • Executive Creative Director
  • Chief Creative Officer

Entrepreneurship

After I became a Chief Creative Officer I decided it was time to start my own advertising and ideas agency called The Weaponry. That was 5 years ago. Today, my title is Founder and CEO. Which is a lesson in itself. Because if you have the fortitude to start your own business you can give yourself any title you want. I just thought that Galactic Czar was a little too much.

But Wait. There’s More.

I have made the full professional progression from entry-level to C-suite to entrepreneur. But I’m not done yet. I am just days away from publishing my first book with independent publisher Ripples Media. And I have several other exciting and challenging chapters of my professional career ahead of me. Some of these chapters are already planned. And I am sure there are some surprises in store. There always are.

Your Career Guide

To make the type of forward progress I have made you need at least one of the following people in your life:

  • A Mentor
  • A Career Coach
  • A Spouse or Life Partner

These 3 roles all have the ability or responsibility to look after you throughout your career. They can all help you map out your entire journey, and offer feedback, guidance, encouragement, and direction based on your goals. But only the third one should ever see you naked.

The important commonality is that mentors, career coaches, and spouses are not concerned about your current employer’s needs. They are not trying to keep you happy today. They are focused on the big picture, which might not include your current employer.

Mentor

I have never had a real long-term mentor. I have had mentor-ish people help me at various times, with specific roles or challenges. But not someone with whom I had an official ongoing mentor-mentee relationship. I would be happy to have one. I simply haven’t. Maybe it’s not ment to be.

Career Coach

I have never worked with a professional career coach either. Again, I see great value in this role, and would certainly be open to adding a coach to my weaponry. Because I am smart enough to know that I still have a lot to learn and that I could use all the help I can get.

Spouse

My wife Dawn has been the primary career minder for me. She knows what my goals are and she knows the timeline I have set for myself. For over 20 years she has regularly helped me evaluate my professional development and career progress with 2 simple questions:

  1. Are you where you want to be?
  2. Where are you going next?

The answers to these 2 questions provide the regular reality check I need to make sure I arrive at each of my preset checkpoints, but that I don’t stay there too long if I want to complete the race I am in.

Key Takeaway

Find someone to help you map out, navigate, and complete your career journey. Someone who can be there for the entire journey. Who is unbiased towards any particular role or employer, but simply wants you to accomplish all that you set out for yourself. Don’t be afraid to request a mentor relationship. Don’t underestimate the value of a professional coach. And if you have a spouse or life partner that’s in it for the long run, let them help ensure you reach the finish line together.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.