Are You What You Do?

If someone asks you, “What do you do?” — what comes to mind?

If you’re like me, you probably have a one-word (or short-phrased) response.  You don’t even have to think about the answer — it’s ingrained in you. Maybe you answer “student” or “teacher” or “lawyer” or <fill in the blank>.

When someone asks me this question, I’ll often respond with “software“. Wait a second — what the frick does that really mean? I do software? (How’s that going for me?)

I’ve found that one way to grow (because the question is awkward) and have a memorable conversation with someone is to ask something slightly different: Who are you?

People may look at you like you’ve misspoken, or they’ll repeat “Who am I??” and give you a very quizzical look.

I’ll often respond by smiling (note from experience: don’t smile too much or you’ll seem creepy!) and replying, “Yes, who is <their name>. What are you about?”

If someone asks me this question, my answer is much more than “software”. In reality, I’m:

  • A (new) husband, learning to navigate what it means to honor my wife, and to serve her sacrificially (freakin’ hard)
  • A new father, learning what it means to balance my work (which I love), and my family (which I love even more)
  • A man seeking after high truths about who we are, who we serve, and what our lives are meant to accomplish
  • An Entrepreneur, full of ideas, responsibilities, and experiences that are much more than just “software”
  • … a whole heck of a lot more (insecure, moody, a dreamer, music-lover … the list goes on and on)

My guess is that you’re also a lot more than the one word or phrase you thought of a few moments ago.  Right?  You’re a lot more than what you do for a paycheck.

So next time someone asks what you do, what will you say? Or better yet, next time you meet someone new, will you have the courage to ask “Who are you?” — and come back and let us know what you learned?

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About David Rosendahl
Husband, father, co-founder of MindFireInc, two-time Inc500 software company. I love building things.

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