Labels. Labels. Labels.
We have this innate need to label things. I realise labelling is a part of our survival mechanism. Back in the day running around in the jungle, we needed to label things, good, bad, dangerous, poisonous, friend or foe.
And the labels were signals to the brain to act accordingly in relationship to the label.
So if I stumbled upon another human in the jungle, I might label the person friend and go up and hug the person and exchange juicy gossip about what so and so was caught doing in the village.
If I labeled the person foe then my brain would either give me the signal to fight or flee. This same functionality is still with us today.
Soren Kierkegaard turned us on to the problem with labels: once you label me, you negate me. This equally applies to how we label ourselves. I often struggle with how to label myself for other people. Am I a writer, coach, trainer, philosopher, or consultant?
We tend to answer the question â€˜what do you do?â€™ by saying what we are. The dialogue goes like this:
â€œSo what do you do?â€?
â€œI am a writerâ€¦â€?
When in fact I should answer the question by saying â€œI write.â€?
Now if the person asks me â€˜who are you?â€™ I answer with my name. â€˜I am Clay.â€™ And â€˜what do you do Clay?â€™
I am a:
I run my own business
In fact labels can be changed and interchanged depending on what you need to use the label to do.
Writer is a label that is useful for me.
Philosopher is a label that is useful for me.
Thinker is a label that is useful for me.
Coach is a label that is useful for me.
Training Consultant is a label that is useful for me.
In a world that wasn’t obsessed with labels, I would be happy to just say “I AM.”