Monday, October 11, 2010

What's In A Name?

Signing a credit card receipt on a recent business trip I realized I have reduced my name to a scribble. Though I've worked hard to be proud of my name I sign it as though it is not important at all. I wonder if my sloppiness hints at what I might think of my name, even of myself. Why is this so important? Because names and words not only identify us; words, because they clarify our goals, affect who we are and who we can become.

So, what's in a name? What's in our name? Simply, whatever we place there. Most of us had no choice in our name. We were named for a loved one, or a friend or something memorable. But think of why that name was chosen. It means the person naming us hoped we'd embody what that name meant to them. But now it is our turn. If someone thinks of our name differently after we've met them then somehow the example of our life changed the way they now hear the name. If our time with them was marked by energy, wonder, goodness, or a deep connection, each time they hear that name, whether directly referring to us or not, they will hold the name with respect and honor.

What if the life we've built leaves scant evidence of compassion or caring, good will or gratitude, struggle or success? Then our name will not expand the thoughts of those who use it nor find itself spoken with reverence.

Similarly the names by which we describe what we do, who we are, in part makes us. We become what we call ourselves. “Artist,” “poet,” “craftsman,” “home-maker,” “entrepreneur.” Some of the words we choose to describe ourselves we keep hidden knowing that is what we really believe about our life. “Loser,” “loner,” “drifter,” “subordinate.” And if the word we use to describe ourselves is less than what we really can attain, it is not the world that holds us back but our own lack of belief, desire or imagination. Though we sometimes rail against the fates it is we who follow the lead of our own words.

So, who are you at your finest moment? What are you at the best times you can remember? “Artisan,” “thinker,” “philosopher,” “philanthropist.” We become what we call ourselves. We move toward what we believe and hope ourselves to be.

Whatever we call ourselves, we will become. Be honest. Think of your strengths, gifts and desires. Cherish and polish the name given you in life and live fully the name you use to describe yourself.


Elaine said...

Another excellent observation, Scott. It wouldn't surprise me to think of you the next time I sign my credit card receipt. I love the idea of looking at our names/roles, from a position of strengths; that is something to certainly to consider.
My best, Elaine

Greatness Project said...

Thanks Elaine. I'm also more aware of how I sign my name and what I answer when people ask me what I do. It's important.