What do you do?
I have a ranty confession. Every time I hear this question I cringe and every time I get asked this question I avoid answering in the way they expect it to be answered. The reason I do not like the question is because it defines us by what we do instead of who we are. Most of the time this question gets asked when you first meet somebody and a label is automatically established. The label says if you have made it, if you have prestige, if you are a hard worker, if you are respectable, and it represents your importance; all based on what you do.
This question drains me to ask and it kills me to answer. The conclusion is made of what is important to us by what we do for work and that is such a small part of who we are. We have gotten so good at manipulating this so we seem important by coming up with fancy sounding titles that are just elaborate words that have fake prestige to them. I understand employers want their employees to have importance in their title and to have professionalism, but some titles these days are getting out of control and you have not made it unless your name includes an abbreviation or acronym.
Making lemonade with lemons
We can try as hard as we can to avoid and change the environment that this question is asked, but we will have to face it. I have accepted this and believe it or not I have a way that we can use this question to create a powerful impact. It does take some creative action, but it will be powerful.
For me, I would tell people I am a writer and life coach, some of the time I would get that is nice with the possibility of a follow up question about what I write about since writers are always writing something interesting. Things changed when I started to tell people I help champions become champions. I have not changed what I do, but I changed how I portray myself. The first is bland and boring and the second is helpful and transformational. People love people that serve to help others and it is a powerful bonus when they hear the transformation of somebody becoming a champion. To be honest, I took this from somebody, but it is something worth sharing and using because it works in a powerful way.
How it works
The problem at the beginning was that I did not like how our work defined who we are and the figure out who somebody is we use the question what do you do. It puts the emphasis of identity on what you do and have done instead of who you are. When you hear I help champions become champions, you hear somebody being helpful, believing the best of others, somebody that believes in transformation, and somebody that is in the service of making change. When I say this it shows that I believe I have purpose and it shows that I believe others have purpose. It puts emphasis on who I am instead of what I do.
This is hard work to figure out because it takes a little soul searching and step outside of the status quo, but that is the responsibility of being creative. Fortunately it comes easier than you think. Here are a few questions for you to figure out how you can be more powerful in what you do.
1 I help blank
3 can do blank
This is just a suggested path, as you notice the example I gave of “I help champions become champions does” does not have the words so or can. It has an action, it has a person, and it has a transformation.
Examples of this can look anything like the ones below
I care for new moms getting through the stresses of the infant phase.
I watch over the trends of sales to enhance the potential of sales in our company
I lead a team of engineers to create innovative products to make medical procedures more safe.
I train and invest in employees to be effective and purposeful in the work place to maximize their potential.
These are much more powerful than the alternative responses to
Answering the do you do question in this way is much more powerful than saying I am a…
In the comments give me your most powerful response to what do you do.
Show me that we can transform the way we answer this question
If you want to know more about this transformative process send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you a call to help you have a more powerful impact.
We can set up a free 30 minute consultation to see what it is that is holding you back from becoming who you want to be and being who you want to become
In the comments give me a powerful example of what you would say to the question
What do you do, so you show you have purpose and meaning?