Aug 28

usain bolt and mo farah

Muhammad Ali said “I am the greatest!” Usain Bolt said “I am a legend”. What confidence! I can think of a few others such as Beanie Man who answers this question based on his sexual prowess and attraction as he chants in his song – “Who am I?, the girl dem sugar!!!”

This question has the power to elicit confidence as well as confusion, delusion, and doubt. Often times the question comes from the need to introduce oneself. With hand outstretched, do you give your name? “Hi, I am Delaney”, or “My name is Jordan and I am a singer/song writer”. This kind of response indicates the perceived value of associating “who you are” with “what you do”. Have you ever seen the reaction of “Hi, I’m David and I am a doctor” to the response of, “Oh, nice to meet you David, what kind of doctor are you?” What about you? Don’t you have an identity to share? This is a total hand-off of power and importance.

Helen Reddy wrote an awesome song, which peaked the billboard in 1972 that speaks to this topic. The lyrics proudly and loudly stated:

“I am woman, hear me roar, In numbers too big to ignore”….

But this kind of confidence does not come cheap, as you can see as she continues:

You can bend but never break me ’cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal. And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer’ cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.
Oh yes I am wise, But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything, I am strong, I am invincible.
I am woman

Ask a child “who are you”, they typically give you their name which is the only symbol of identity they are aware of in addition to their gender. But to the individual who have gone through some life experiences, there is a much broader perspective. The person who has licked cancer says “I am a survivor”. The student who had bean financial odds in school can say “I am a graduate”. Sweet! This confidence is built on  reputation and achievement that is unrefuted.

A doctor asked me once, “who are you?” and I was thrown by the question, which seemed so unusual coming from a physician. He said, “I have your information here, you name age, etc., but what I want to know is, who are you, what is not written here”. Need I say I had mad respect for him after that?

Additionally, this is usually a make or break question at an interview. Simply, “who are you?” Again, in this context it is not about what your name is, your marital status or the number of children you have. It’s an opportunity to sell yourself with confidence. To highlight the skills you bring to the table in alignment with the position you are being interviewed for. Why you are the best candidate!

So take a moment and think about this powerful question, and answer yourself….Who am I? I hope you will be able to answer with much confidence…I am more than my profession, I am more than my education, more than my gender…You are the sum total of all your experiences. You are special.

See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.
  • I Am gets complicated when you’re new to asserting yourself and becoming a leader, because lets face it this is a major part of leadership – the willingness to own up to the responsibility and the confidence to show your true colors and back it up.

    General: Who here is willing to lead this bunch?
    You: I Am!

    Beyond the cocky feelings of “I am” and the bravado that it seems to bring, I think of the responsibility that comes with it and ultimately the respect. Love it Dr. Carly!

    • Thank you Dragon,
      I definitely concur with the essence of your comment. There is nothing more sexy than self confidence that is grounded in one’s ability. That’s the stuff real leaders are known for, and that is truly what brings the respect.

  • McThick

    Anyone who responds to an initial “Who are you?” with anything but their name is a douche.

    • Hi McThick,
      I had to laugh when I read your comment., asI have been guilty. I did a little test before publishing the article, because I wanted to prove myself wrong about how the average person answers this question. My findings? The three year old right up to the 54 year old gave me their name.

      We are so programmed to speak before thinking. Even I got caught off guard with the question coming from my doctor. I am even more frustrated by the number of individuals who “flunk” this question in an interview. Thanks for your comment.

      • McThick

        DrC,

        I’m glad you got those results! When someone asks “Who are you?” (or any variant thereof) *initially* all they really want is a name.

        Having said that, I do not respond well to acquaintances who ask me “Who are you, really?” and then interrupt me when I start to answer with something along the lines of, “No. I did not ask you what your job was or where you are from, who ARE you?”

        I see that as insulting. It is an attempt to know a lot about me without putting any effort into a relationship (male or female) on your own. There is a reason it takes time to ‘get to know’ someone, because it is a two-way street. Trying to shortcut that with a single question is both selfish and counter-productive.

        I would certainly not accept a question like that from my doctor. Perhaps from a psychologist/psychiatrist, but those are people who are paid by the hour, not someone who you would have a relationship with. I would also not accept it from someone who is interviewing me for a job. Unless you’re planning to alter my work load or schedule to take into account my personal preferences, you don’t need to know.

  • McThick :
    DrC,
    I see that as insulting. It is an attempt to know a lot about me without putting any effort into a relationship (male or female) on your own. There is a reason it takes time to ‘get to know’ someone, because it is a two-way street. Trying to shortcut that with a single question is both selfish and counter-productive.

    I can agree that it is a shortcut to get to “know” you but I don’t see it as insulting. Sometimes you need to cut to the chase and ask who the hell are you? what are you about? I think the answer to this question shows what you think of yourself. And being that you are more than likely caught off guard you get a more genuine answer. And if you cant answer then atleast it makes you think to yourself…. 🙂

    • DrCarly

      Hey Taya,
      Thanks for your input. Your perspective really have me thinking, and I can see the merit in it, especially about the spontaneity drawing out an honest response. Do you think that “cutting to the chase” may shut some people down? Mmmm

      I do agree with McThick also, because we are now in a “text” society that hardly says more than 2 words to each other. We have lost the art of conversation as much as we have lost the art of letter writing. This is why I believe the short answer may be somewhat counterproductive and off-putting.

  • DrCarly

    Hi McThick,
    You stated …”Who are you, really?” and then interrupt me when I start to answer with something along the lines of, “No. I did not ask you what your job was or where you are from, who ARE you?”

    This is indeed disrespectful. When we perceive we know more or have all the answers, that is when we become interruptive.

    Many are uncomfortable talking about themselves though he or she would have no problem gossiping about others. That is why this questions is self-reflective. As Taya said “…makes you think to yourself”.