Label Yourself

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#1

So, what do you do?

“Well, I used to be a lawyer, but that was many years ago now, but I don’t regret it, it taught me a ton about communication, but anyway, then I owned a health club because I just loved fitness and the mindbody connection, but I hate the way the fitness industry operates, massive, like capital f’n M Massive disfunction, so I started my own thing and it exploded, then I sold the company and opened a yoga center and fell in love with wellness industry entrepreneurship, but also marketing, so I started to pour myself into the psychology of language and behavior change and action, because, like, in the end that’s what all marketing really is, you know, it’s just psychology, and isn’t it soooo fascinating how we’re wired, hashtag neuroscienceRULZ, and then I totally started geeking out on human behavior and mindset and realized that’s been the common thread, so I started writing about it and I’ve written two books on it and I’m about to start my third and holy crap writing is hard, but fun, and cool, and I sometimes don’t know what I think until I write about it, and then I also really became fascinated as an outgrowth in what makes people tick, so what actually makes for a life well-lived, you know, a good life, not so much “the” good life, like you see in music videos with people posing next to Teslas, but just the core elements, what are the ingredients of a life well-lived, are they universal or unique to each person and then I started to build a media and education business around that and became fascinated, also, with belonging, so now I’m about to write a ton on that and spend a few years researching it and along the way I began to realize that revolutions and movements were stunningly powerful vehicles for belonging, so I deep-dived those puppies and built a framework to help people stop sucking at business as usual and instead create businesses of belonging and I shared the framework for that, trust me I didn’t really want to, but OMFG the reaction when I did, cray-cray, so I did it a few more times as a keynote and people went nuts and wanted help making it happen so I launched a new training, it’s nuts how people are responding and then I’m also a total freak about self-care, because I just believe it’s one of the full-on unlock keys for success, but I’m not just talking success in business, you know success includes money, but it’s not ALL about the benjamins, it’s about bigger stuff, connection, vitality, love, the ability to be fully self-expressed so that also a huge part of what I’m about and, truth is maybe the common thread in all of this is that I love to learn, I love to go deep into the human psyche to figure patterns and systems and pieces of the puzzle that let people get more out of life, and in fact, I once told someone my purpose is to “illuminate the human condition” and I kind of never meant to say it that way, but I got chills when it tumbled out and so did the person I told, so maybe that’s it, but then I told someone else and they’re like “what the hell does that mean?” so I’m still working on it all, but along the way, I just keep researching and creating and making because, at my core, I’m a maker, you know what that is, right, it’s like the hipster word for someone who lives and breaths to create stuff, I’m constantly creating, have been since I was a kid, in fact when I was like 10 I used to go to the junkyard, I know how quaint right, I grew up in a little water-town with a real old-fashioned junkyard, and I’d throw pieces of beat up old bicycles together  and take them home and pull out the hammer, some screws and mountain of duct tape and make frankenbikes, so I’m a maker too, always making, physical stuff, but also more etheral stuff, you know like with language, books, media and experiences, oh man, I LURVE to create immersive, transcendent experience that take people from point A and leave them in point B, did this as a club DJ in college, like put me behind the tables and I’ll take 500 people on a journey for 5 hours, don’t ever need to say a word to anyone, I just love to create the container, the vibe, the energy, the emotion, actually did the same thing in yoga as a teacher now that I think about, oh hey, did I mention I not only owned a yoga center, I actually taught for 7 years, what a crazy ride, love seeing people rise above their own negative anchors and flourish, which is becoming this big word these days, btw, but when it really comes down to it, before everything else, I’m a dad and husband, that’s what I “do,” but I don’t think people ever really think about that when they talk about what they do, have you noticed that, so anyway, short and sweet, yeah, that’s me. So, what do YOU do?”

Hello? Hey, where’d you go?

#2

So, what do you do?

Me: “I help people unlock their potential, do work that matters and live better lives.”

Coffee shop dude: “Cool, how?”

Me: “I produce media that shows what’s possible and inspires, create educational experiences and content that teaches you how to operate on a different level and build communities that cultivate belonging and support and empower action.”

Coffee shop dude: “Uhhhhh, so where do I sign up?”

#3

Labels Suck. Until They Don’t.

Nobody wants to be put in a box. We hate labels. I’m not one-dimensional.

I can’t describe what I do or who I am without a painfully long, run-on-and-on-and-on sentence. I do a LOT of different things and I won’t cheapen or minimize or reduce who I am when I describe myself just to make it easier for you to put me in the right human being bin.

Except, you will anyway. You HAVE to.

Because that’s the way the human brain works. We don’t have to like it, we can rail against it. But that doesn’t change the fact. We are wired for pattern recognition. Our brains instantly start to search for pattens, names, boxes that allow us to categorize every new experience and person. If we didn’t do that, it would take massive amounts of energy just to survive each new minute.

So, whether you want to be labeled or not, every person you come in contact with will do just that. Which means, if you don’t label yourself, you risk being labeled whatever they determine is right. And often, that’s radically different than the box or association you’d choose had you been told “you have no option but to choose.”

I’ve fought against this for years. I’ve been misbranded, painfully sometimes, put in boxes, rooms and filed under descriptions that make me cringe. Because I didn’t want to lead with my own label, because son-of-a-bitch I CAN’T BE LABELED.

But I must. You must. Because people must. And they will.

And if you don’t. You’ll most often lose.

So, you’ve got to choose.

Not what you do. But how you guide people to “file you.”

With rare exception, there will be no perfect category. No one bucket that encompasses the fullness that is you and what you “do.” So you’ll have to choose the best of the best or the best of the worst. It’ll leave things out and bundle other things you may not connect with in.

Still you’ll have to choose.

I’d rather be dropped into a file that represents only a slice, though the bigger slice, of who I am and what I do, than be dropped into a folder that says “no damn clue,” or “too busy to understand” or “my brain hurts trying to figure this person out so I’m not gonna” or “toothpaste salesman (nothing against toothpaste salesmen, just not me).”

People can’t easily contextualize, connect you with others who need you or help you build what you’re building unless they can label you. You’ll never be top of mind, nor top of need or top of give.

So, labels may suck if you’re a complex person who casts a wide interest and occupation net. But the brain still needs them.

And if you want to work with others or build something bigger than you, you need them too.

So, what’s yours? Feel free to share in the comments.

With gratitude,

JF

 

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80 responses

80 responses to “Label Yourself”

  1. Leader of the Midlife Insurrection. Soulful Strategies. Dollop of Sass.

  2. Gwendolyn says:

    I love the post – but you didn’t “label” yourself. You didn’t say “I’m a workshop facilitator” or “I’m a life coach for potential change makers.” You gave the “short speech” that outlined the benefits of working with you. I agree that the word “label” conjures up feelings of being boxed in and reduced to one stereotypical cog. So after reading the post, I still hate labels but now I know that I need to sculpt my “painfully long, run-on-and-on-and-on sentence” into a 15-word or less sparkling summation. Thank you

  3. Vanessa says:

    Great article, good points. At this time I’m trying to define my own label, but I’m having writer’s block. I still have my day job, and that’s the label that gets used most of the time, for practical reasons, but I find it so confining.
    What I’m finding, is that getting that label down is also a short way to explain the essence of what I do, and that’s what I’m trying to define. I do art, detailed drawings that are an explosion of patterns and details. I also do astrology readings where I like to delve into the client’s personal mythology. But it feels clunky to say: artist-Astro-mythologist! 🙂
    Still working on it!

  4. Joe Choi says:

    Read halfway through #1 and I got really, really mad. Did this guy forget how to format text and write sentences so it’s readable?

    But then I realized it was on purpose. Ha! Nicely done.

    “I do marketing for health companies,” is the one I’ve found works best for me. I specifically do copywriting, but many people confuse that with the legal legal term “copyright.” Saying “I write junk mail” creates a negative perception for people.

    The above is clear and concise enough for people to understand, and open ended enough that a conversation can flow from it.

  5. meg says:

    I made up chandeluse because I restore antique lighting, but I also use “Renaissance Gal” because I do so many things. People do get that label and always want to hear more.

  6. Midwife of possibility, change agent . Rebel , teacher , advocate , author

  7. Cathy says:

    I’m an info-aholic!
    I have to find things out…google is my best friend! Confined to a desk job by day, my mind, however, is free to research, question and search for answers. My inquisitive nature may be misconstrued as giving people the third degree..(according to my daughter!)
    In constant search of the never ending question…why? I never do anything with the answers, just tuck them away for future reference..
    …anyone looking for a research assistant….. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Jonathan, fantastic post!! I am fascinated with the human behavior and why we do the things we do. I can’t seem to ask enough questions or read enough about how similar and different we all are. Research has become my best friend.

      It is spectacular that you have done so much in your extended fields. Sharing with everyone is the best thing you can do.

  8. Deanna Lamour says:

    Jonathan! I love you 🙂 Thank You for being strong enough to embrace vulnerability and show us your glorious innards. I’m really enjoying seeing more with your new format and even wider opening of the door to your soul. As a student of psychology I realize this labeling business is quite serious as you say and key to our ability to function as humans. I didn’t particularly like this labeling idea until you just cleared it up for me, your amazing ability to ‘illuminate the human condition’ yes!

    Your webinar was fascinating ~ a true gift. Thank You is not enough of a word to express my gratitude for it, truly revolutionary & evolutionary thought process. I’m interested to know if you are considering offering sign up for the classes thru to the starting date if we were not able to register by Sunday? I’m in the SF Bay Area and most likely would not make the live event so that is not a deciding factor; it’s just financial & time readiness at this point (the price is very reasonable & appreciated btw) I’m sure I’m not the first to suggest you transcribe your webinar and turn it right into a book, very little editing would even need to be done since you have the outline & info established. For all those who aren’t ready to put in the class time or are still developing the idea for their personal type of revolution a book of the webinar would be an incredible guide.

    Thank You for realizing your truth and the many gifts you share with us; your photo today is beautiful ~
    Deanna

  9. Stephen Q Shannon says:

    Jonathan, My interim label is “fan of Jonathan Fields”. Otherwise former sandlot polo player who has gone legit as career trainer (not a coach) who assists professionals who want to make more money where they are and other professionals who want to make more money where they want to be.

    Special plea for semi-sight challenged Jonathan advocate, me: Please offer darker type face. To embrace what your share I copy, paste, bold, and slightly enlarge your text for robust reading. Otherwise I struggle. I remind me, it’s all about content and context, not graphics. Just sayin…

  10. Mark Furlong says:

    Great job in coming up with your label, Jonathan. Makes me want to sign up. Wait! I already did.
    I am using your “Career Renegade” and Chris Guiliebau’s “100 Start-Up” for some coaching programs in St.Louis. Any other tips on helping people come up with their label?

  11. chiara wood says:

    (this website under construction)

    Good Morning and thanks for the prompt, Renegade.

    I understand the importance of creating my own label and have spent years struggling to articulate one, accurate but concise enough, to satisfy myself (and stimulate a conversation that matters!) Reading your funny run-on this morning provided a giggle of resonance and I realized again that my decision to move forward with my revolutionU training is the best next step.

    “I’m a healing artist, celebrationist, social activist and writer,” she said.

    “Yeah? What does that mean?” (they) replied.

    “I’m glad you asked. This is close to my heart and I love to share it. I provide clarity and support for personal healing and transformation.”

    “Uh huh. How?”

    “I create and convene circles of community that provide tools and experiences that empower and encourage women to transform their lives and move forward to fulfilling their dreams.”

    (…to be revised along the way, but that’s the way it stands early this morning in the chilly but beautiful Pacific NW!)

  12. My version would be something like “I help service providers who are struggling create an awesome online presence and generate leads.”

    However, if you asked my clients, it would probably be something like “Website Lady” One even had me in his phone that way. LOL

    Glennette Goodbread, Owner
    Premium Web Design and Hosting

  13. Hope I’m not the only on that nearly fell off their chair laughing at the coke-head version 😀 Seriously though, it’s a very good question and one I’ve wrestled with a fair bit.

    “I’m a coach, trainer and team facilitator,” sounds a lot more boring that it is. I have tried out a number of alternatives. ‘Destiny Consultant’ was one, but I figured it made me sound like I was telling fortunes. At the moment I am toying with ideas such as ‘change specialist’, ‘transformation specialist’ or even ‘transformation provocateur’.

  14. That post came exactly when I needed it.

    Thank you for that!

  15. Akilah says:

    Radical Self-Expressionist. Thanks for this post. Juicy, informative, and filled with lemme-think-about-that mojo, as always!

  16. I struggle with introducing myself with a label people can understand. I tell people I’m an Internet marketer and they get this blank look in their eyes. Or they ask me, “What do you market?” When I tell them I market information products that show people how to make money using the Internet, they usually reply with, “Oh, that’s nice.”

  17. Kimunya Mugo says:

    I am a servant-leader, helping others to become unmistakably authentic!

  18. Kelly Davies says:

    I too have rebelled against “labels” and realize that we have to build a bridge to where people are. Esoteric explainations that leave people going “huh” don’t give us the opportunity to touch their lives.

    So- “I help people tell the truth, fight their fears and create a life they love waking up to everyday.”
    I do it by ” Creating community by sharing my fears and feelings so others feel safe doing the same thing”
    In short- ” I’ll show you mine if you show me yours;-)”

    I help people get naked. Most people just call me “that naked girl” now…..lol.

  19. Kristina says:

    Jonathan, I swear you must be my twin brother separated at birth! 🙂 I have been trying to hone my own run-on sentence answer to that question for years…. And every time I get close, it seems as if another shiny object — in the form of another calling or pursuit — comes along and I run after it. It was only recently that I was able to forgive myself for this, realizing that all these interests have been guiding me — that they all actually enhance and inform one another to make me the ‘complete package’ that I am.
    Sooo….. I am an artist, a writer, a visionary, a healer, a teacher an empath, and an innovator. I help people to awaken spiritually and embrace their own unique forms of “conscious creativity.”
    Thank you for your thought-provoking message!

  20. John says:

    I agree that you need a specific label if you want people to remember you. In the past I worked in Real Estate and the agents who labeled themselves multi-family or luxury property specialists far outperformed those who used the generic label “Realtor” since everybody knew who to refer those specialized deals to.

    Your post was very timely for me. For the past 4 years I’ve been using the label “Digital Media Entrepreneur” as a catch-all for my music business sales/marketing career, my blog, and passion for connecting with other creatives who are making a positive impact on the world. Even as a marketing professional it’s been tough to pick one label.

    Now I just say “I help mid to upper tier artists, record labels, entertainment properties, and lifestyle brands grow their audience online.”

  21. Sharon Hayes says:

    Ha… I read the first paragraph and thought, “Wow, I’ve heard at least a dozen people say something different/totally the same without stopping to breathe.” Brilliant way to get your point across!

  22. Jake Willin says:

    When asked “What do you do?” I simply reply “about what?”

  23. My first attempt to label was for Linked in.
    Facilitator for people projects and programs. But people get stuck after the first word.
    You inspired me this morning to this:
    What do you do?
    I help people to refocus and act when they get stuck on what really matters to succeed.
    Cool how?
    I listen to them and summarise their complex situations into simple visualizations or analogies. Let them refocus on their reasons why they want to succeed and help them find a new way on achieving success.
    Why?
    Because I love to help people to realize their dreams by reaching their goals I also believe in being good for all. This does not feel like work it feels like living.

    Still needs some work also because I am not a native speaker. (Dutch)

  24. Kathy says:

    I teach people how to present themselves with ease and confidence be it in video, on stage or in person.

  25. Donna says:

    Hmmm… well, right now, I can just say “follower”… but that sticks in my throat, clogs my arteries, and will eventually squash my spirit (again!)… so…

    BOHEMIAN CORPORATE MARAUDER has been the label I’ve been toying with lately… I don’t really like it but it combines the ideals I currently hold. Basically, I WANT to be a “gypsy of society” who is paid by corporations (supposedly “a united group”… hmmm) to roam their halls and question their people in quest of plundering inefficient processes, repetition, and overhead.

    In I.T., because that has been my background and it has been an increasingly frustrating environment. My gripe is “why does I.T. continually focus time, resources, and money into workarounds on the backend, instead of just fixing the problem on the frontend?” This baffles me to no end because the fix, in most cases, is usually simple.

    THERE IS WAAAAY MORE TO THIS STORY…

  26. Cassia says:

    I fucking loved this (I can use that word here now right). Seriously moved me more than anything else of yours I have read. So me… I’m an artist. A maker, a see-er, a be-er. Pattern makes me happy and I like to play with people and paint. My label needs some honing but I’m getting closer…

  27. I am an evangelist. Whether it is about fitness, diet or crawling out of the depths of depression, I will work and work to advocate for A LIFE FULLY LIVED.

  28. You’d think after years of creating twitter bios I’d have this thing down, but here’s the latest iteration:

    I believe in the possibilities of people. Everything I do is to inspire people to overcome their circumstances and own their dreams so they can build their noble empire and live an inspired life.

  29. Joanna says:

    I realized i have no problem with labeling myself, once i started doing something that’s in alignment with my true self.
    I feel perfect in a biz that brings about inner peace, than in sales 🙂

  30. Innovation mentor & technology sherpa

    🙂

  31. Good stuff. My favorite label of me emerged accidentally. About 10 years ago I began writing what I called Thts (short thoughts). A friend described it as splashing words on a page and then cleaning up the mess.

    For reasons that still escape me I read my first tht at a poetry reading on the deck of a coffee shop in our small rural community in the mountains of Southern California.

    In my view the link between my thts and poetry is obscure to the point of being opaque. But suddenly people started calling me a poet! It’s almost as if they finally discovered what I actually do. And it’s been my favorite identity and label ever since.

  32. Lauren Rader says:

    Artist
    Painter
    Creativity Coach
    Helping others find the artist within or as my daughter said when she was 10, “Bringer-Outer”

    Thanks again, Jonathan for your thoughts and kindness.

  33. Janet Huey says:

    “I save people money and keep stuff out of landfills.” The landfill part triggers interest my biz which is buying and selling pet supplies.
    Janet Huey
    Pet Stuff Resale
    Houston

  34. Robin Holland says:

    I have two I am working with:

    You know how some Moms feel worthless because they’ve been cut out of their teenager’s life? Well, I help them recapture their awesomeness as a parent to their teen.

    I help Moms be awesome with their teen.

  35. Ken Fried says:

    Two weeks ago I created this:

    I collaborate with adults from around the world who want to leverage and use the journey to peak physical health as a means to create a meaningful and engaging life, so they can live on their terms, summit the mountain of personal potential and achieve self-mastery.

    After reading this article I think I will call myself what has always resonated:

    I am a visionary and given I’ve just signed up for your course,

    I am a revolutionary visionary. There we go!

  36. “I am the healer of an executive’s problems.” No – ?

    “I’m an executive’s right hand.” Uh…no.

    “I help executives by solving their administrative problems.”

    There. Done! Have a great holiday!

  37. Change Agent for creative dynamos who are ready to live and create on their own terms.

  38. jean says:

    Renaissance ReInventress…as of late.
    🙂
    I help give creative entrepreneurs confidence and tools to design the life they want to live, or re-invent the one they now have. Right now, I primarily do that through my blog.

  39. Adriana says:

    I am.
    I love.
    I create.
    I share.
    I forgive.
    I learn.
    I give.

    I am perfectly imperfect.

  40. Asata says:

    Writer. Filmmaker. Creator of films that inspire. After I read this today, I thought about how I used to loathe poetry. Then I realized I hated it so much because I didn’t realize that less can say so much more. I was afraid to think deeper & slower as a writer. I now LOVE poetry and my goal is to make a film without dialogue. Thank you Jonathan!

  41. “I help people to work well with people from other cultures”

    This is the answer I find works best to give people a mental picture of my work and to begin discussing the who and how and where questions.

    I have other labels; psychologist, organisational psychologist, cross cultural psychologist, coach, trainer, facilitator, consultant, business owner, speaker, wife, mum, daughter, sister, friend – but they are about different revealing different patterns for others to recognise.

    Jonathan, as I read your free flow rave I was reminded of a college student TCK (Third Culture Kid) I met at a conference I spoke at. He was explaining how difficult it is to answer the question “Where are you from?” His response in a single breath very long sentance included his passport country, his country of birth, the many places he had lived and where he was now living. This is a common experience for TCKs and one they often struggle with.

    Sometimes I think “Tell me about yourself” is a much better way to start a conversation.

  42. Mark Zmarzly says:

    A lot of people struggle with the idea of labels because they focus on the I part of the equation. “I am a ______.” They don’t want to impose limits on themselves. In turn, they end up in a confusing abyss for those who hear their message.

    Most powerful and succinct labels do a quick and easy job of getting to the who benefits (a defined group of others) and how exactly they benefit (specifically, why they’d hire or engage with you).

    JF – you did that very well above and the first section is perfect example of the wandering stream of consciousness that occurs when we are solely based on the I.

    Let’s get past the I and over to the you. After all, that’s where the magic of changing the world happens.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Great point, Z!

      Most people look at a label as a noun or a descriptive phrase modifying a noun.

      I am a civil-rights lawyer is an example. And, if that noun/phrase has a commonly-understood benefit attached to it, that can work.

      Oh, you’re a house-painter. Cool, I’ll file that under “when someone needs their house painted.

      But a lot of “descriptive noun-based” labels that people create these days are super playful and fund, BUT don’t trigger that pre-existing “pattern,” that automatic association with a specific benefit. In that case, and I see this a ton, especially with a lotta folks coming up with snazzy new, never used labels, calling yourself “a” so-and-so that doesn’t trigger an immediate benefit-association doesn’t really help at all.

      People need to label largely to understand what need will trigger your “file” to pop up in their brains. So, I’ve gotta agree, often times, when you go beyond labels with commonly-known associated benefits, you’re better just leading with the benefits, rather than a snazzy descriptive noun that people still don’t get.

  43. jen says:

    somebody with the best idea ever for changing the way we see racial integration whilst simultaneously supplying the western world with simple ways to free themselves form angst and prozac, connect to total positivity and change their lives ? 🙂

  44. Nancy says:

    You’re the only one who has convinced me to label myself. Jeez! What was I thinking! Thanks for this.

  45. Maria says:

    How can a blog post be the match lit under me, the sobering slap I’ve been avoiding, and the virtual hug I needed to face the inevitable? Wow. This is good stuff!

  46. Tova says:

    I’ve never been a fan of labels, but agree—at times they are necessary. For example, when you cross customs and get asked – whats your occupation? You have to give an answer. And you probably don’t wanna give a sassy answer like “dream strategist” they will look at you like you’re an alien, give them probable cause to search you, and so it’s so much better to answer with a straight edge label. If I was to go with one label right now, I’d say Author. But depending on the day my answer often changes 🙂

  47. Ted says:

    I don’t know!!! And this not knowing is driving me nuts! I appreciate this post, Jonathan, as I feel at a breaking point doing work that no longer feels congruent with my lifestyle. Any label referencing my work just doesn’t feel right nor does it encapsulate who I am. I am incredibly grateful for all that my work has given me, but it no longer fits me, nor would any label. Actually, I secretly long to create a business, like you did, in fitness, yoga or something similar, just not sure what!!?? Hmmm, I guess I’m still seeking clarity around this next move so we shall see….To be continued… For now, my label, probably should be “explorer.”

    This post, however, has me thinking, new inspired thoughts, so thanks for sharing!

    Gratefully,

    Ted

  48. Laura Jack says:

    Great article! Made me smile.
    Thank you!
    I show people who have experienced loss how to move from surviving to thriving in their lives. Together, we utilize the loss experience as a tool for growth, love, and compassion.

  49. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, loved the James Joycean-Kerouacian brain spatter of your first labeling. It would be nice to read on my favorite cereal boxes, so please look into that.

    Me, I’m a cranky language lover, dependable outfielder, secret sentimentalist, sink for mature bourbons, and admirer of my mother.

  50. Jim M says:

    As someone who has come to the realization that many of the labels they once used to identify themselves with, were actually toxic to me, it’s been an interesting ride to try and ask what labels would I like. Thanks for this post, and the work you’re doing with The Good Life project, it’s been helpful in trying to find a new path to follow.

  51. Hollie Flynn says:

    Jonathan! I loved #1. I was like: “Yeah! Awesome! Tell me more. Fascinating. I know. Wow. How cool.” I would have so been there when you ended! 🙂

    But I get it! I’ve fought hard against the “box” — and you got me with the fact that we will be labeled anyway…might as well guide it! And ultimately that is what will serve.

    I’m a Life Strategist and Advocate for extraordinary living, which really means I help purpose driven people discover and live their passions, highest potential, and most extraordinary lives.

  52. Great Post

    It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently; how to tell people about what you do

    I think when you work in an area that’s not easy to put a label on it’s not an uncommon issue; thinking about it in this way helps to give the issue a direction to go down

    Thanks for posting

  53. Lisa says:

    A provocative conversation indeed. I agree with some points made and disagree with others. Personally, I hate the question “What do you do?” (being asked it and asking it of others) and I prefer this one instead, “What do you like to do?”

    While titles and labels may help people understand more about the work a person does (I’ve had my share of trying on different ones myself), most of the time I find the answers people give bring the conversation to a fairly quick close. I’ve discovered the second question tends to free people up to share more of who they really are, what they’re most passionate about, and the conversation continues on.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Totally agree that your question is more interesting. I rarely ever ask people what they do. I often ask what’s holding your interest these days.

      Challenge is, we can choose the question we ask others, but we don’t get to choose the question they ask us or rewire the their autopilot need to “file” us based on utility. Don’t have to like or agree with the way other people process new people, but when we don’t acknowledge it and give them the answer that best represents how we want to be “filed,” they will still file us. There’s no workaround. We just risk being misfiled far more often than not. 🙂

  54. Jonathan … Wow … Yes!

    I stand in awe and in deep appreciation for the openings you inspire!

    Thank you for being a bold, clear, revolutionary, heart-inspired leader…

    I will be joining you.

    Jyoti Amma Sophia Conradi … The Miracle Girl

  55. I help people get their health handled through innovative care that focuses on the cause, instead of the symptoms, and design unique health programs exclusive to each client and their path to extraordinary health and vitality.

  56. atlasphere says:

    Provocative, as always, thank you! Looking forward to RevU!!!

    Artist & dreamFarmer. Simply, a dream farmer cultivates (sows) the imagined (seeds) into being. I’m the intersection of curator, community manager and operations designer.

    About ‘what do you do?’ As hairdresser, I’ve always asked, ‘what is your story?’ and lately, I ask, ‘do you like the people you work with?’.

  57. […] in the midst of realizing that I was kind of becoming known for something, I read the perfect post by (amazing) Jonathan Fields. His point: People will label you – so you’d best label […]

  58. […] claiming your identity, giving yourself a label? I just read an article by Jonathan Fields on why we need to give ourselves a label. His premise is that if we don’t label ourselves then someone else will–and they may […]

  59. Nica Waters says:

    I inspire badassery. I work to help people get in touch with their inner strong, confident selves, enabling them to stride through the world as if they belong in it.

  60. Tom says:

    Having a concise response to the question of what’s holding my attention nowadays is one thing Jonathan. In fact it’s a very handy thing to have.

    In the latter part of this article you seem to segue into confusing preemptive reputation management with the virtually unlimited power an individual has to be who they want to be.

    ‘…you risk being labeled whatever they determine is right.’ The risk is in being concerned with labels others might apply to you, possibly forgetting for a moment the power you hold over yourself and your future.

    Labels applied to me by others out of some hurried utility do not concern me. I’ve been many people in my life, often successfully. I would’ve benefitted from a better pitch in the elevator no doubt, but my will and M.O. focused on how I’d perform when the doors sprung wide open, and that’s where the power is.

    I do appreciate your message Jonathan, and your positivity.

  61. Ailís says:

    I help people grow, by watering them and positioning them in the sunlight.