“Who are you?”
Ryan Fenska, my big brother in the Fraternity, asked me this question as he stood hovered over me with his 6′ 7″ inch frame. “Uhhh? Ryan Eller?” I answered with a quiver in my voice, all of my confidence zapped out of me by this strenuous question. Fenska looked right back at me, his confidence unwavering, his demeanor unchanging…and asked me the question again, “Who are you?”
I was befuddled to say the least. My big brother, my best friend, my mentor had just discarded my answer like it was 100% inaccurate. I waited for him to smile his goofy smile, or to slap me on the back and laugh out loud like he usually did when he was kidding with me. He didn’t. He waited very patiently, his countenance as fierce as ever while I shook in my boots searching my brain for the right answer. It came to me…”I am Ryan Eller, son of Richard and Suzie Eller, from Muskogee. I am ADB 224 (my fraternity number). I am a freshman in college and an associate member of Lambda Chi Alpha.” I knew I had nailed it this time…I couldn’t get more specific without boring him, so I figured I’d passed the test.
Once again, Fenska stood as emotionless as a statue, looked directly into my eyes, and said, “Who are you?”
Who are you? This may be one of the hardest questions I have ever been asked. It is a question that most of us ask ourselves during our darkest moments, when life comes at us as fast and as fierce as Fenska did that cold night so many years ago. I will be completely honest with you, I am certainly asking myself that question a lot lately.
Who are you? Some things I know undoubtedly…I am husband to Kristin and Dada to Jane. I am a man from a strong, close-knit Christian family. These things are set in stone and will not change about me. Everything else about me is influenced by an unlimited amount of outside factors that help shape and determine who I am.
So who am I? I am trying to figure this out almost every minute of every day.
It is easy for me to have others define me (both good and bad…mostly good, hopefully). They say I am a Woo, a counselor with Educational Talent Search, a facilitator, a strong communicator, a goof-off…you know, all of those things that I can read in my bio. But it doesn’t matter what others say about me…others could say whatever they want about me. It only matters who I think I am, the confidence that one can only get through a strong sense of self.
So…I am obviously trying to figure out who I am…what my purpose is on this earth and the man I am trying to become. How do I do this? How does someone so clearly lost determine this sense of purpose? I like to start with a “3-Word Vision Statement.”
3 Word Vision Statement
If you had to define who you were in three words…what would they be? This is much harder to do than it might seem. I know some people who like to write a few paragraphs to help define who they are. Or they might write down a list of 100 words that describe who they are in every aspect. I think both of those practices are beneficial, but I think a “3 Word Vision Statement” is the best way to help you find your way.
Take some time and determine what your 3 Word Vision Statement is for your life. It can be a phrase such as “Changing Other’s Lives” or it could be three separate words such as “Live. Love. Lead.” These are mission statements that will help narrow your scope and define your vision. The 3 Word Vision statement is a guidepost for your life that helps you make decisions both professionally and personally. If something doesn’t funnel through your 3 Word Vision Statement it probably isn’t beneficial towards your overall goal.
Write your 3 Word Vision Statement on a card and place it in your wallet. Put it on your desk, mirror, or computer. Take a picture of it and put it as the background of your phone, iPad, or laptop. Know your purpose and mission in life. Try to make sure all of your actions mirror your 3 Word Vision Statement.
The good news…no one defines you. If people are constantly placing you in a negative light or demeaning you, it doesn’t matter. Same is true from the other side though, it doesn’t matter if you are surrounded by people who build you up…”Who are you?” is only answered by you.
So…how did I answer Fenska’s last question when he asked, “Who are you?” I didn’t. I stood there and just looked at him. Little did I know that he was asking me one of the most important questions I could be asked. I didn’t know the answer then, and I still don’t, but I am getting there. My 3 Word Vision Statement, by the way…”Facilitating Through Empowerment.”
As Dr. Seuss says, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Don’t you ever forget it.
What is your 3 Word Vision Statement? What defines who you are? I encourage you to take some time and narrow your scope by answering this difficult question, and if you are willing, leave your 3 Word Vision Statement in the comments section of this blog.