Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung
Sometimes a phrase gets lodged so deep in your brain that it keeps coming back to your consciousness for years.
Mine is this: I know who I am.
At the beginning of my career as a political staffer I was on a meteoric rise. For 5 years I was thrown promotions and raises and I could see myself climbing a sturdy ladder right to the top of my field. Then in 2011 I quit.
Compare this with the last 5 years: virtually zero income for 3 of those years, and two business failures behind me.
Was I temporarily insane in 2011? No. Then what would cause me to blow up my career?
I knew who I was in my core.
I was independent, self-directed, and entrepreneurial. I was someone destined to improve the world. I was a writer.
Politics satisfied none of those desires that were central to the core of who I was. I told myself, “I know who I am,” and I said goodbye to it.
After meeting and working with thousands of people in my short life I am convinced of this: you know who you are, too.
Even if you can’t put your finger on what it is that you know, you most certainly know it.
It’s probably only a feeling, but one that is so deeply lodged in your brain that it will not let you go until you start acting like you know who you are.
“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
When I quit politics in 2011 I was certain of two things: I am a writer, and I am an entrepreneur. I had an idea for a book, but no idea what business to build.
I knew I had to start my own business and I knew I needed to serve others. After months of mining my core for golden ideas I decided that I would start a business to bring solar lighting to African villages.
Ending global energy poverty turned out to be a major challenge (go figure). My progress in one whole year was microscopic.
I struggled to stay motivated and I watched my bank account drain to nothing. I had to take unemployment insurance. It was the darkest, lowest point in my life.
“I also remember the moment my life changed, the moment I said, ‘I’ve had it! I know I’m much more than I’m demonstrating mentally, emotionally, and physically in my life.”
― Tony Robbins
I was sitting in my backyard late one night, wondering how I would pay the rent next month. My business showed no hope of producing any income for at least a year, I was drinking heavily, I had no girlfriend, and no hope.
But my unconscious demanded a voice, and said,
“I know who I am.”
I knew that I was brilliant, capable, and destined for much more than I was doing. Remembering who I was in my core was the beginning of a turnaround for me.
In the next year I had found a business partner, funding, set up a company and delivered solar lighting to more than 1,000 families in Zambia, in Central Africa. I amazed myself.
"Slay that dragon once, and he will never have power over you again"
― Steven Pressfield
Today I still have dragons: existential questions, finding meaning in mundane tasks, balancing my personal and business budgets.
The challenges will never stop, not in my life or your life. How do we deal with this beast?
Remember that you know who you are. In the moment, you may wonder where the rent will come from, how you will keep your marriage together, when you will start seeing business results.
In those moments sit quietly and listen to your core. Remember who you are.
"For an impenetrable shield, stand inside yourself"
― Henry David Thoreau
It does not matter how impossible your challenges seem, there is a strong and steady voice in you that knows you are destine for more. We all have this unshakeable core.
Listen, then take action to manifest that person.