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What defines you?

To define…


  1. state or describe exactly the nature, scope or meaning of –  Synonyms: explain, expound, interpret, elucidate, explicate, describe, clarify; More
  2. mark out the boundary or limits of – Synonyms: determine, establish, fix, specify, designate, decide, stipulate, settle, set out, mark out, mark off; More


I was struck by a comment made by a client in a coaching session. When asked how he would describe himself, he replied “I don’t define myself in a particular way.”

It intrigued me: What does not defining yourself in a particular way, look or sound like? Is not defining yourself actually a way of being desired?

What followed was an interesting and thought provoking conversation around ways of being identified and seen. But it raises an interesting question for us all:

How do you define yourself?

Is it through:

  • your value set: I’m honest, hardworking and driven
  • your feelings: I’m confident, purposeful and happy
  • what you do: I’m Head of…and am responsible for…
  • where you work: I work for…at their HQ in Swindon
  • your impact: I ensure customers are happy with our service
  • your different roles: I’m a single, working mum
  • your purpose: I’m on a mission to…
  • your skills: I’m creative, goal orientated and good with people
  • what you are not: I’m not your typical accountant…
  • your name or your connection to others. “I’m Sandra, married to Tony who works in IT.”

Or something else?

For some, the fundamental question is not “what defines you” but “who defines you?” Here what defines us is left to others.

“He’s an independent thinker, who brings a lot of challenge to our process.”

“He’s the best son, any mother could have”

“He’s one of the lads”

In pondering that theme further, do you let anyone define you or is that task limited to certain individuals?

On rare occasions, I hear my clients define themselves from a number of different perspectives. A self-proclaimed narcissistic leader when asked to define himself confidently stated:

I am someone who is far superior to others I meet

Others would see me a someone who gets results but is to be feared

My ex-partners would call me an abuser and manipulator

Powerful stuff. It’s a defining moment when we define who we are. To allow our sense of self to be defined through words.

So the next time you are asked “Hello, who are you?” listen carefully to your response.

Helga is our Influencing and Impact Specialist. Helga has over 20 years’ experience supporting leaders and their teams in large multinational organisations to polish their influencing and impact skills to improve overall business performance.

Further reading

Eckhart Tolle – On being and doing

Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo

Option B – Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant

About Aziz Corporate

Aziz was founded over 40 years ago by Khalid Aziz, a media pioneer of his day who at 21 became the youngest ever appointed BBC producer.

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