Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Label. — Own it. Be known for it.

on October 15, 2013

I recently helped facilitate a professional development workshop that was aimed at getting people to examine labels.

Not the labels on cans and boxes in our cabinets and pantries (although we should be examining those pretty closely, too!)

I am talking about the labels that we put on ourselves and the labels we assign to others.

The activity required that everyone write down six things that describe them.

Six words or phrases that describe the true essence of who you are.

At your core. At your very being. Who are you?

Six words or phrases that, if these things were taken away from you, you wouldn’t be the same person.

Some people were able to quickly jot down six things, without much thought or trouble.

Others took a longer time, really pondering and grappling with the idea that they could only be six things. They struggled with and agonized over only having six words or phrases to identify their whole as a person.

Once everyone had a list, the really hard part began.

I asked them to, one by one, eliminate items on their lists. The lists that they had worked so hard to create. They physically had to make a choice and draw a line right through a part of themselves.

Then they had to find a partner and process why they chose what they chose.

I listened as they rationalized what they could give up and why the others meant more to them. The labels that were chosen to keep space on the list.

Then I asked them to do this again. Mark another item off of the list. Make a choice and tell why you let it go.

We did this again and again and again.

We did this until there was only one thing left.

Which was really difficult for some people. I remember seeing the pain of it in their eyes.

If I cross out “Daughter”, does that mean I don’t value my relationship with my parents?

If I cross out “Mom”, does that mean I don’t love my children enough?

If I cross out “educator”, why the heck am I working so hard everyday in this school for these children?

After some discussion, we uncover and unpack our labels.

And we discover that we, of course, are so many things. We are so many things to so many people in so many places in so many roles.

Our lists of descriptors are long and to wear only one label diminishes the whole that is … me.

Or the whole that is … You.

And to assign one label to another person certainly misses the whole that is … other people.

When we label someone as just one thing…we miss all the other things.

All the other things that make us, that make others, simply amazing.

Simply and complicated-ly amazing.

And when we do that…we miss so much about people. Their essence. Who they really are.

And when we do that…we miss so many things about ourselves, too.

So, what describes you? What are the many labels that you wear?

Be honest. Embrace all of it. The good. The bad. The beautiful.

Right now, list 40 adjectives about yourself as fast as you can.  Don’t edit as you go. Just create a word cloud about YOU and the awesome that you already are.

Then own it all. Every one. Every piece of who you really are.

Own it. Be known for it.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

cloud label


One response to “Label. — Own it. Be known for it.

  1. Jan says:

    This is excellent. Thank you!

Comment Challenge: Start your comment with one action word. Then Proceed. Go:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: