February 16, 2011 Leadership, Thought Provoking

Exploring your Individuality

I read this post by Steve Weitzenkorn, Ph.D., today and couldn’t help seeing the leadership in his message.  Steve is an experienced business and nonprofit advisor, concentrating on the people side of organizational development, strategy formation, and change.  You can view additional information at his website http://findfulfillflourish.wordpress.com

Mahatma Gandhi said, “He who loses his individuality loses all.” This raises the question, “What is individuality?’ We are all unique on a number of dimensions, including our DNA, physical characteristics, personality, style, talents, interests, temperament, and passions. These characteristics are important, however they are not what Gandhi had in mind. Some people have interpreted Ghandi’s view of individuality as central to the quest for determining the meaning of one’s life. And that this meaning is unique to each of us.

This is all very abstract, philosophical, and theoretical. How do we bring it down to earth so it connects with our own lives? I prefer not to ponder the meaning of life but rather the meaning I can pour into life. This then leads me to turn the question around. Instead of asking, “What’s the meaning of my life?” I ask, “How can I make my life more meaningful – to me and to others?” The answer to that question, along with the accompanying actions related to it, will define my individuality. My individuality is now determined by the purposes I embrace in my life and how I go about pursuing them.  This is so true.

Should I lose those aspects of my individuality, I greatly diminish who I am as a person and what I stand for.

There are two important elements to this perspective on individuality. The first focuses on the purpose(s) to which I devote myself. What is meaningful for me? What worthy objectives do I wish to pursue, in both my personal life and for a greater good?

The second element revolves around how I pursue them. Which of  my strengths and talents will I apply to make a positive difference? What special perspective, knowledge, or expertise can I offer to add value or propel an endeavor? What ethical principles and values will I embed in the process?

The answers to both sets of questions define an important part of our individuality and how we can create meaning in our own lives and the lives of others.

How would you define or describe your individuality? How can you bring it to life? How can you pour greater meaning into your life to make it more meaningful and fulfilling? These are questions most of us to do not ask ourselves. They are thought-provoking and often not easy to answer. When we do, we can set a more meaningful path for our lives or reinforce the one we are on. By acting on them, we further develop and actualize our authentic self.

Take time and devote thought to these questions. There are not any right or wrong answers, just answers that are right for you. Rather than risk losing your individuality, you will further develop it and enrich your life.