I wrote in the past about what I believe to be the single most important question you can ask a student – Who are you? How many times have you met someone and the first question you asked was – What do you do? Kids are often asked a similar question, yet in a different context – What do you want to do when you grow up?
When was the last time you actually considered who you were? No, I’m not talking about your name or your profession, those don’t define you. If you’re not quite sure how to answer this question, let me give you a little exercise that I share with my students.
Each of the questions below is designed to help you understand what makes you unique. I invite you to answer them as a means of discovering who you really are.
- Describe a time or situation in your life when you experienced the most joy or happiness.
- Who is one person in your life that you admire the most?
- If you had a chance to interview anyone who has ever lived (past or present), who would it be?
- If I asked your best friend to describe you using only three words, what would you want those words to be?
- If you were asked to teach something to a group of your peers, what would you teach?
- List your top five strengths or talents.
- If you were could change one thing about the world today, what would it be? Why?
You may not have realized it, but by answering these questions, you were essentially uncovering who you really are. Your unique answers are insights into your distinct nature. Sadly, we often lose track of our uniqueness in search of trying to be someone we are not.
Last week I did this exercise with a second grade boy that I mentor. He is only seven years old, so when I asked him the question “Who are you?”– he looked at me like I had lost my mind; however, after spending some time discussing the answers to the above questions, he came up with a statement that so beautifully captures who he is (see picture below).
Imagine a school full of students who walked the hallways knowing full well who they were or who they were choosing to be? The current culture of competing and comparing would be non-existent. Students would seek to align their choices with who they are, not who their friends have told them to be.
I invite you to sit down with your children and complete this exercise. Once they have answered the questions, encourage them to come up with a one-sentence statement that can be used as a personal mission statement.