The Power of Identity

user Darren Gold
calendar

This article was recently featured in Forbes.

Ask someone what her identity is, and she will likely respond with a confused look. It’s a strange question because we rarely give it much thought, and when we do, we struggle to come up with an answer. Yet, conscious or not, everyone has an identity. And it is our identity that drives much of our behavior and, ultimately the results we get in life. Human beings will do everything in their power to act in ways consistent with their identities.

In my work coaching and advising senior leaders, I have been obsessed with figuring out what separates average performance from extraordinary performance. It turns out that identity plays a critical role. Consider the very best performers in athletics and the arts. Virtually every one of “the greats” identified as great before they had evidence that they were indeed extraordinary. In fact, they were absolutely convinced and certain of their greatness. It was their entire identity.

Perhaps the most famous example is Muhammad Ali. He didn’t just identify as the greatest boxer, but as the “king of the world.” And he wasn’t shy about letting everyone know it. As a result, his actions and outcomes were a natural manifestation of his identity – an impact that extended well beyond the boxing ring, influencing culture on a global scale.

A more present example, given the recent release of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, is Queen’s unusual, creative genius of lead singer Freddie Mercury. Many of us grew up singing their songs, but few may have realized how impactful Freddie’s persona was on Queen’s success. The band was interviewed after Freddie’s death and recounted that when Queen first formed, Freddie was already a rock star in his own mind. He was absolutely certain of this. Every ounce of his being reflected a man convinced of his own greatness. This is a common trait in all extraordinary performers.

So, if everyone has an identity, and if that identity is a key driver of human behavior, wouldn’t it make sense to choose an identity that is most likely to get the results that you want in life?

Much of my work with senior leaders is helping them do precisely this. The exercise is simple and powerful. Ask yourself, if you want to consistently take actions that produce extraordinary results in life – in your career, your relationships, your health – what would your identity need to be? Once you’ve identified a powerful identity that resonates with you, you must embody it. To do so, you have to say it repeatedly with massive physical and emotional intensity. This is the only way to build the kind of certainty needed for your identity to manifest.

My identity is as follows: I am an extraordinary leader, coach, author, husband, father, son, brother, colleague, friend. I command my mind and body to use every ounce of my unlimited potential and infinite capacity to massively and positively impact the lives of others. I say this every day, multiple times per day. I scream it out loud whenever I can. (I find the car to be the best place, despite the weird looks I get.) The commitment to this practice has been life-changing for me. The actions I take and the results I get flow naturally from this identity. It is now so ingrained in me physically and emotionally that I have no choice. The desire to behave in a way that is consistent with my identity is too strong of a force to allow for anything else.

Take a look at your own life. I guarantee that your results are a direct product of your identity. And your identity is one of the most underleveraged assets you have. If you want different results in any area of your life, choose, embody, and leverage the power of identity.

Back to TriumIQ

Let’s Talk

Contact Us

Trium IQ

The Case for Congruent Leadership

Extraordinary leaders regularly ask one very powerful question, “What am I doing or not doing that is…

Read

3 Ways Leaders Can Make Difficult Conversations Feel Easier

Leaders are expected to act as the guiding lights and role models for everyone else. And every leader, no…

Read

The Gift of ADHD: How My Son Taught Me To Be a Better Leader and Coach

I have a 15-year-old son who is a wonderful, intelligent, sensitive being who, in many ways, is…

Read

How to win in a post-pandemic future

Now that we are turning our collective gaze away from the immediate global crisis, it’s time to…

Read

The Paradox of Leadership

At its core, leadership is about the ability to leverage paradox. There are five polarities that are…

Read

“Maturity begins when one lives for others” – Hermann Hesse

Reflections on my new role as Founder and Chairman of The Trium Group I founded Trium in 1998 inspired…

Read

How to Effectively Leverage Executive Coaching: 3 Steps to Hiring a Coach

I lead the executive coaching practice at The Trium Group, where we serve senior leaders and their…

Read

How to Make Your Post-pandemic Leadership Offsite a Huge Success

With vaccination rates climbing, many companies are now considering how they’ll get their leadership teams working together…

Read

What Good Leaders Do When Replacing Bad Leaders

Those who are replacing poor or controversial leaders have a special challenge. Every leader who fills a…

Read

Catching Up with Reality

One of the great challenges that all human beings face is aligning their behavior with reality. This has…

Read

Focus on Your Other Hand

In the last year, as leaders have been navigating unprecedented levels of uncertainty and anxiety, our clients…

Read

Want to Be a Great Leader? Be a Great Coach

It’s no secret that the Bay Area is one of the highest-priced labor markets in the country,…

Read

How to Build Strategy When “Set it and Forget it” Won’t Work

This piece was written by Doug Randall and originally published on Real Leaders. A global pandemic. Civil…

Read

Your Only Job: Be Kind. Be Present. Be Clear.

As a management consultant, I get asked for advice all the time on a wide range of…

Read

What We Can Learn From Joe Biden About Purpose

Regardless of your political persuasion or orientation, it would be difficult to not admire Joe Biden’s journey….

Read

A Trium POV on The Purpose of Work

Andrew Blum reframes what work is all about and offers a different way of viewing work that…

Watch