What you want to be, is different than being.

Once in a workshop, participants were asked to compare the brand of where they work, to a known consumer brand that shared similar traits and qualities — a pretty standard brand exploration exercise.

An individual asked “Do you mean the brand we have now? Or the brand we want to be?”

This was not the first time I had heard this type of response and I reflected on the challenges it presents for a brand, organization or individual embarking on change or growth.

I have been thinking, ‘What is wrong with who you are?’.

On one side we have psychologists, mindfulness practitioners and purpose driven consultants encouraging individuals and organizations to work with who they are first and foremost. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a host of encouragements and pressures from media to change management professionals that focus on you or your brand becoming something else entirely, perhaps even a more perfect version of yourself.

“Stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there.” Eckhart Tolle

With the latter, there is a fundamental flaw. Take an organization — they could be attempting to create new value, new design, or new products around where they want to be, while skipping entirely who they actually are. This happens at all scales and levels, from business to the individual. It is not the fault of any one individual, more a lack of an awareness to process that creates the flaw.

We all participate in a version of this conversation with management, our team and ourselves, but when the successes or changes we aspire to do not appear, we wonder why.

Often, people act out of aspiration and it takes us away from our core purpose. We are aspiring to be something else, without knowing first who we truly are!

I feel aspiration can mask having purpose and intention. You can aspire to be something without having an actual reason for being that, other than, “just cause” or “it’s what we want to be”. To get at the root of an aspiration, one can be asked “Why?” once, twice, three times, four times and it will become an increasingly difficult conversation the deeper it goes.

Understanding “why” requires a commitment to what is discovered in the process. Being open, honest and accepting of the true value you bring to others — whether through products, services or experiences — is a place where you can really begin to create and offer something exceptional.

Activities, goals and visions help move us to new places. However, once you know more clearly what it is you bring to the table and why you bring it, then you can get strategic with it in a way that suits your personality, brand or organization.

Be mindful of leaning too much on aspiration. If it lacks a deeper meaning, one big thing will likely be missing if you achieve what you aspire to — fulfillment.

This is Part 2 in a series of reflections on learning, personal growth, professional development, and facilitation — inspired by an experience at Zenergy Unlimited’s Stage 1: Discovering Collective Intelligence this past spring.