I thought I was a confident man until I asked a girl out for the first time.
All the other guys I knew had girlfriends, it couldn’t be that hard. Right?
As 9th-grade Jordan soon discovered, girls have a weird way of making you do and feel things you’ve never done or felt before.
For instance. I realized my body was home to a once-dormant horde of gnomes committed to tying my stomach in knots as I tried to hold a conversation with her and maintain some shred of confidence.
That “relationship” lasted a month and we never actually went on a real date. (Hello, 9th grade. It’s good to see you again.) But I did learn a thing or two in the process.
Today, that’s one of many circumstances I recognize as a defining moment for who I am today.
Moments I struggled, leadership mistakes, missed opportunities, and general failures have coincided with successes, meaningful opportunities, and encouraging conversations. Together they have shaped who I have become.
Every one of those days I’ve made a choice.
Today, so do you.
You choose every day whether to passively observe life as a spectator or take real ownership of the storyline.
But how do you know what steps to take if you don’t know who you are? If you don’t know your launch point, knowing much about your journey is impossible.
It’s time to know yourself.
How do you do it? Here are a few steps. Take them.
Dive into a personality test. Or ten.
This is more than Buzzfeed telling you which Hogwarts house you belong in.
Or taking a quiz to determine which Friends character you are.
Or which New Girl roommate you’re most like.
Or what flavor of ice cream you’d be.
Or what 90s TV show best describes your life.
Take some real personality tests and you’ll discover truths about yourself that will prove immensely valuable down the road. Pick a framework and dive into it. Learn the ins and outs. Determine the motivations, reasons, and wiring behind what you do.
Perspective is an invaluable gift.
Some great places to start are below:
Personality test results help me understand why I think, feel and act the ways I do. Why some tasks are easy for me and not others. Why I get so dang frustrated with people over the smallest issues.
You won’t fit completely into any one box, and these tests won’t give you a life plan, but they will develop a picture of who you are and what things you should do more often. Areas to grow in and strengths to develop. They’ll help you solve conflicts and become more understanding of others.
It’s worth your time. Promise.
Here’s another good practice.
Use your friends, they know a lot about you.
Ask one or two of your closest friends to sit down with you this week. Then ask them honest questions about yourself.
What am I like?
When have you seen me the happiest?
Where do I excel?
When have you seen me not at my best?
What am I like when I’m stressed?
What areas do I need to grow in?
What kinds of things could you see me doing down the road?
As they talk, listen.
Don’t take their criticisms personally, use them as opportunities to grow.
Do take their encouragement to heart. Because in a lot of ways, you are incredibly gifted and unique and need to hear it more often.
As they talk, write it all down. Words that strike a chord in your soul, sentences you disagree with and realities you already knew to be true.
This requires a entering a zone of great vulnerability. Go there. I’d bet these words prove ridiculously helpful.
I’d bet you leave encouraged, challenged and ready to do something about it.
When you have finished, spend some time alone.
Sit down with your notebook and write, “Who am I today?” at the top of the page. Free write until there’s no tomorrow. Write every fleeting thought. Don’t be afraid. Be incredibly honest. Don’t edit an inch of it.
Spend 15, 30, 60 minutes on this. Heck, write a novel about it.
Once you’ve published, hit the New York Times best-seller list, and finished your international book tour, start a new page.
Write, “Who do I want to become?” Same concept. Write with ferocity. Be real. Be brave.
Who is the person you want to become?
What are they like?
What does he/she do?
What kinds of things do they care about?
What role do they play in people’s lives?
What do they love to do?
As you go forward, this exercise becomes an invaluable guide because you’ll learn a little about who you are and a lot about who you’re becoming.
Ultimately, who you are becoming is way more important than who you were and what you do.
Life can look awesome on the outside while you slowly decay on the inside. No amount of achievement, status, paycheck or prestige is worth such private death. If you find yourself in a spot where you care more about what things you do and what people think about you than who you are and who you’re becoming, run. Usain Bolt yourself out of there.
And run towards people who believe in the person you are becoming.
When you have an idea of who you are, taking your next step as an Amateur is simple. Start moving towards who you want to become with friends who will go alongside you. Challenge yourself, take risks and lean into the truths you’ve discovered in your soul.
And whatever you do, don’t ever let the gnomes in your stomach win.