Redefining What Defines You

In our work and our personal lives, we’re asked to put ourselves out there every day. It requires us to show up vulnerable. You pitch a plan to a client, and they don’t pick you. You work toward the promotion, and you don’t get selected for the position. You try to strike up a conversation and hear crickets. It’s like going through tryouts and not getting named to the team you wanted as a kid. Some days, putting yourself out there can sting.

No matter how good you are at whatever it is that you do, you’ve been there. We all have. None of us win 100% of the time.

Whether you’re a professional adult or a 16-year-old, experiences like these can feel traumatic. We preach failing fast and put it on a pedestal, but it can feel like these experiences define us. Moments like these test where we’re finding our identity. Even if we’re used to getting chosen and “winning,” all it takes is one or two “no’s,” and we can get derailed by doubt, fear, and insecurity.

When this happens, two things are essential, and you need to do both of them as quickly as possible…

First, it’s time to double down.

We need to double down on what defines us, locking in on what we know is true and where our identity really comes from. Doubling down can be as simple as doing this simple recall exercise. Ask yourself…

  1. What did it feel like the last time I was in the zone or did something that felt great? Where have I been successful in the past? Close your eyes, imagine that feeling and soak it in.
  2. What am I good at? What qualities differentiate me, and how do I bring value to the people around me?
  3. If you’re a person of faith, include that in this recall exercise. Go deep and ask yourself how your relationship with your creator and your spiritual side influence your identity.

Doubling down begins with resetting your mind. You can’t move forward as long as you’re focused on the missed shot or the failure. Refocusing on your past successes, the personal qualities you bring to the table, and who you are in your faith – those things that actually define you – prepares you to keep moving forward.

Second, it’s time to get back on the horse.

Once you double down on who you are and what defines you, it’s decision-making time. Lean into your identity and get back on the horse, or stay down on the ground and roll around in your losses. What defines your identity in these moments is how you show up when you encounter this fork in the road. When you get bucked off the horse, what do you do? Get back up and keep going, or stay in the muck? Choose wisely.

Winning in life, professionally and personally, is dangerous. You’re not going to get the results you want in every situation. Failure is part of the process, but it does not define you. Separating your day-to-day results from your identity is key. In those moments when failure comes knocking, and it will, double down and get back on the horse.

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