I’m a CEO.
I’m a good mom.
I’m a great friend.
I’m an honors student.
These are all labels. They are words, that in my opinion, have way too much weight and not enough value.
We spend a lot of time both being labeled and labeling others. Oh, and making sure we’re living up to the labels we want and avoiding the labels we don’t.
We gather labels as if they’re valuable. But what purpose do they actually serve?
They “define” us. I get it. It’s easier to sum up who you are and what you believe in a few short words. But they also sell you short. Labels constrain instead of free. They box you in, creating an oversimplified image of you who really are.
In reality, labels fuel stereotypes. They create divides. And they shortchange us all. But how do we remove our labels and how do we stop ourselves from labeling others?
Let your stories be your story. I’m a creative and I work in advertising and I’m a mother and wife and a million other labels that don’t adequately define me and my journey. So instead of trying to sum myself up, I open myself up. I don’t have a one-size-fits-all intro about myself, but instead I share stories about myself relevant to the conversations I’m a part of.
Avoid using labels. What if the next conference you attended had a rule that you couldn’t share your last name, occupation or job title throughout the event. Would that change who interacts with who? Would dropping labels free us to new opportunities?
Know that labels are small. Meaning, don’t put too much weight behind how other’s may have labeled you. Labels are a small portion of a much bigger journey, and we need to accept them as that – small.