Last week, I heard Ingrid Betancourt share snippets of her life story during captivity. Her kidnappers would treat them as objects and subjects, calling them by a number (digit) instead of their names. Ingrid however, refused to be called by a number. Instead, she remained steadfast on keeping her identity.
During this time of crisis, like Ingrid, not letting go of our identity is of utmost importance. Metaphorically (and perhaps even in real life), you could say it’s a matter of life and death.
What is so special about our identity? Here are four thoughts why keeping our identity is important - it tells us:
Reveals who we are (Belong)
Brings clarity to why we exist (Purpose)
Guides us in how we should behave (Values)
Moves us to intentional action (Strategy)
1. Reveals who we are (Belong)
Regardless of your background and belief system, we can all agree that we are citizens of planet earth. The last three to four months, people from every continent have stayed home (at some point in time) for the sake of others. It has been said that the earth has undergone a process of healing and restoration as well.
We have been reminded that we are global citizens of planet earth first, then our nationality and ethnicity. As global citizens, we have a global responsibility to care for the earth AND one another. The reality of this is more felt now than ever before.
Our actions in Asia have implications for Europe, Americas etc. and vice versa. We can no longer be selfish and individualistic in our living. The lackadaisical attitude must dissolve and we need to form new communal living habits.
2. Brings clarity to why we exist (Purpose)
As citizens of planet earth, why are we here? What is the purpose of our existence? This crisis has reminded us again that we cannot exist for ourselves. The “Me” factor that has been deeply rooted in all of us must be diluted and replaced we the “We” factor.
For too long, greed and selfishness have driven us to behave and act in a certain way. Not all things we want our children and the next generation to follow. To put it simply, we strive for things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like, with the money we don’t have.
We must build for the next generation and the generations to come. We must create sustainable and scalable means that will bring lasting and impactful change. We must find new ways to engage with others, equip ourselves with and empower generations to transform the world.
3. Guides us how in we should behave (Values)
Our Identity guides us to the values we should embrace. Love your neighbour as yourself is a saying that remains true till today.
Loving your neighbour as yourself means loving others unconditionally. Loving people despite our differences; red and yellow, black and white, we love them all. Equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion; are no longer slogans we chant but a lifestyle we live.
Government and corporate leaders alike, must treat people as people, and not a resource. We need to see beyond the divide and seek ways and means to unite. We are no longer a statistical community; instead, let us seek to grow a thriving community.
4. Moves us to intentional action (Strategy)
Action creates traction. We need to put strategy into action. Strategy into action produces intentional steps toward our purpose, guided by our values.
The time to act is now. We are already hearing numerous stories of collaboration and co-creation (e.g. COVID Innovations and COVID-19 Innovation Hub). Now is the time to use our God-given talent to build partnerships and innovate.
It is not a race by pharmaceutical companies to find a vaccine, but a race to rebuild communities and live purposeful lives. It is not potential earnings from another blockbuster drug, but breakthrough findings that will be a blessing to the world. I don’t mean do it for free, but our purpose and paradigm need to change.
Three simple words that form a very fundamental question. An important question that requires a measured response. A response that will surface ownership of a unique identity that can serve as a catalyst for greater purpose.
Recognising who you are sets you up for your purpose. Your purpose gives shape to values. The clarity around purpose and values, enables you to be creative with strategies.
Who are you?
P/s: Many years back, somewhere between Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, I suddenly realised the lyrics of the Crime Scene Investigation theme song.
Who are you, who who...who who…
Who are you, who who...who who…
I really want to know, who who...who who…