Do you know who you are? I mean, really know who you are deep down and what your values are? It’s a very difficult question and one, I must admit, that I rarely think about when I’m busy in my everyday life and dealing with whatever problems that are thrown my way. But if I think about it hard enough, I have a pretty good feeling of who I am and what makes me tick, so to speak.
I’ve always found it hard to deal with other people, especially in my work life as a company owner and the boss of others. I’ve heard a lot of other people say that they dream of one day working with people, either as a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, or the like. That just blows me away. Having worked with people of different nationalities and cultures for the past 10 years, I cannot for the life of me think why anyone would ever consider dreaming of working with people. I can think of nothing more excruciating. Honestly, I’d prefer not working with people (sorry, guys!), if that were at all possible in my line of work, and not having to deal with all the problems, all the bullshit (there, I said it!), all the lies, and all the back-stabbing drama that people invariably bring with them into a relationship whether it’s professional or personal.
Having worked with people for the past decade, I now understand why there are so many conflicts around the world. WE, the people, create the problems because WE, the people, are the problem.
With that being said, I find it hard to be the boss of others. It’s just not in my nature, and I constantly find myself struggling between being nice in order to keep the peace and being firm in order to get things done the way I want them to get done. I am generally a nice person, I think, so being tough with others is hard for me, and whenever someone inevitably does something against my will or even worse…behind my back, then I take it very personally. I often take it so personally that it really hurts my feelings.
Where was I going with this? Oh yes, I started re-reading a book, that I bought a couple of years ago, called It’s Not About the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks by Howard Behar who is the former president of Starbucks International.
It’s a book about how to become a better leader and finding your true passion and voice as a leader…a typical American self-help book that might be good for some, while others might find it utterly useless. Reality might not be so generic worldwide that one person’s view of how to become a better leader translates across borders, cultures and languages.
Anyways, it’s a pretty decent read and for anyone who likes Starbucks, it might be an interesting book.
In chapter 1 (I haven’t gotten further, yet), Behar talks about the importance of knowing who you are so you can wear one hat – – so to speak. That’s good advice. Knowing who you are, your values and priorities is always a good place to start.
He says that…
Wearing one hat is the epitome of personal leadership. It is the starting point – and the end point – of the lifelong process of discovering who you are and what you stand for (p. 11).
It makes things easier for others (e.g. your employees) as well in the sense that they know what they can expect from you and what they can ask of you. It creates a certain consistency across the border that in return prospers balance and harmony … and even further along produces (hopefully) good results.
An organization (aggregations of people) that wears one hat knows what it stands for and has the energy and clarity of purpose to succeed. There are no secrets, no hiding, no pretending, just the honest drive to fulfill the organization’s dreams and goals and to fulfill the dreams and goals of its people (p. 13).
Finding your hat may not be easy and it may not be done all in one day. For many people, it’s part of the journey of life and some may perhaps never really find it. But it’s important to realize and remember that there’s no right or wrong here…your hat (once you find it) will be yours and yours alone for a moment until it changes again, and you have to look for a new one to make your own. Whatever it may be, you shouldn’t feel like you have to answer to anyone or defend it to anyone who may question it or doubt it.
If each of us is on a lifelong journey to find our hat, to know who we are, then by implication we are all on a journey to somewhere. I believe that our passion for that destination is what makes us engaged and purposeful about our work and lives. Without a dream, without goals, we have no direction (p. 17).
…without dreams and without goals life may appear to be without value. Without these things, what reason is there to get up and out of bed in the morning if just to go through the same monotonous routines?
It’s not an easy road, and it’s not a solitary road either. Each of us needs to be influenced by other people (maybe a friend, a family member or that one teacher who cared), books, television programs, movies, music, art, poetry, etc., in order to find our way in the dark. Your roots, family background and upbringing play a big part in the whole equation as well. However, the single most important thing to do along the way may just be to keep your eyes open…and your mind and heart.
I believe opportunities present themselves in mysterious ways, and we can choose to see them. When you know who you are, you will see a path of possibility literally unfold before you. You will be gently guided to follow it, or you’ll create your own opportunity. Each life is filled with possibilities, but most of us miss the magical places to dig. Keep your eyes open, and you will find the treasure (p. 27-28).