This blog isn’t just about superhero identities. It’s about why the label you give yourself will dictate your level of success.
The day the first caveman grunted and language was born we started labelling stuff. “Cave”, “fire” “water”, “Mumpreneur” (cringe). Labels are how we make sense of our world and how we navigate our reality. But our obsession with labelling things as identifiers can have a deeply negative impact. Some labels we need, it helps us to connect with each other, ideas and concepts. But when we start labelling ourselves and each other that is when things get a bit sticky.
We are a judgemental gang, as a species. We are always labelling others. Think of politicians, bankers, celebrities and the super rich. What labels do you use to describe them? ‘Generous’, ‘greedy,’ ‘clever’, ‘lazy’?
The problem with labels is that they influence our behaviours. Labeling theory is the theory of how your identity and behavior is influenced by the labels you use to describe or classify yourself.
What label have you attached to yourself lately?
Labels are what you call yourself in your head. They are tags that you attach to yourself to describe the person you think you are. We put ourselves in boxes trying to define who we are. We do it to others, and we do it to ourselves. Whether positive or negative, what we whisper to ourselves every day has a great influence on our self-concept, and dictates the direction of our thoughts and actions. More so than the labels attached to us by society. We are what we think we are.
Ever noticed that when you give yourself a label your behaviour reflects that thing? For example, you give yourself a label…..
- I’m a runner
- I’m disorganised
If you’re a runner, you run. If you’re disorganised, you’re often late, your desk is a mess or you struggle to get your tasks completed.
Most people don’t stop to think about the labels they give themselves, never mind about how they play into their life and / or business. One of the things most of my clients will have heard me say at some point is ‘We behave in line with our beliefs’. That’s a handy reminder but it isn’t the full story. In truth the way we behave often stems from who we see ourselves as being and then the beliefs we have about those identities.
What does this mean in the real world?
That all sounds quite theoretical so what do I actually mean and why does it matter? Well if you’re faffing and you want to stop, it can be pretty powerful to understand why you seem to be doing everything except the thing that you know you actually NEED to do to make progress.
You’ve probably heard about limiting beliefs and how you need to eliminate / blast past them if you want to make progress. But what if there was an easier way? What if you understood that by consciously choosing an identity the beliefs and behaviours would flow through into action?
It’s an exercise I’ve done with clients before and I call it ‘superhero identities’. It can be really helpful to refer back to when a faffing attack happens because you can assume the superhero identity that will help you make most progress, most quickly.
To start off, finish the following sentence in as many different ways as possible.
‘I’m the kind of person who….’
Don’t try and make them all positive and polished, just capture them. The whole point is most of them will help in some circumstances and hinder in others.
For example, you might be the kind of person who
● Is calm in a crisis
● Needs a deadline to feel motivated to get shit done
● Puts family first
● Has a competitive streak
You can also add to the fun and games by asking other people to finish the sentence about you (I take no responsibility for family arguments caused by doing this).
Who are you?
I once had a client who would generally say they needed a deadline to feel motivated. But they also said they were the kind of person who enjoyed being a teacher’s pet. So when they had a piece of work to do that they didn’t want to leave to the last minute, they got going by assuming the teacher’s pet identity.
At the start of the pandemic and again when a recession was formally announced I (like plenty of other business owners) had moments of wondering whether my business was going to head off up the swanney. Then I reminded myself that I’m the kind of person who is calm in a crisis and I cracked on.
Who are you? Does that label serve you? Does the label you’ve given yourself get you closer to your goals or does it take you further away? Your labels are your choice. You can choose who you are and then act as if you are that person until its second nature to do those things and be that person.
If you found this article useful you will LOVE my other ones. I deliver kick ass coaching to help business owners stop faffing and start getting shit done. Whether you procrastinate or faff because you don’t have clarity around what you’re doing or just because you’re bored, I’m here to help you get traction in your business and get going again. Read my blogs. Hoover up all my insights, tips and tricks and if you want to, get in touch and I can tell you a bit more about my coaching programmes.