"I AM" ARE THE TWO MOST POWERFUL WORDS ONE CAN SPEAK.
Anything that follows is a statement of intent, a declaration of creation.
The EP Community is intended to be a safe place for people to make that declaration and to receive the encouragement we all need to start moving forward.
The word “identity” stems from the Latin “idem” - meaning “the same.” Even as recently as the 1600s, “identity” was defined as “sameness, oneness, the state of being the same.” We inherently want to fit in, to be a part of a bigger whole. Similarly, the term “professional identity” - a concept that entered the English language only within the last few decades - ties directly to our sense of accomplishment and, according to a 2016 study completed by Cornell University, is “a key way that we each explicate how we contribute to society.”
If we look directly to the etymology of the term “professional,” we can trace the word’s roots back from either the Middle English, denoting the vow made on entering a religious order, or the Old French (professio) derived from the Latin profiteri, which meant to “declare publicly” or profess.
How fantastic, how wonderfully relevant to the expat population that a “professional” is one who literally declares publicly their set of skills, their professed trade!
Identity - both personal and professional - can be portable if we shift our focus from where we were to where we are now. We must look away from there and embrace the “here.” It is, in fact, possible to reclaim that sense of self, that clarity of purpose by returning to the powerful “I am” affirmation…with one added word: Here.
“Here I am! I am here.”
Yes, we have traveled a long way…each step of which has brought us to where we are now.
In every EP community meeting, each person has 30 seconds or less to tell the group who they are, their professional aspirations, and what they hope to learn from the session that day. As an additional challenge, we require that when each person says who they are, it cannot be in relation to anyone else…and it is fascinating to see how people respond to that instruction. Even more fantastic to see how their physical presence, their energy, visibly changes when they utter the words “I am”…
Truly, when they enter the room, participants are often quiet, reserved, tentative about how their interactions with others will play out. When required to stand up and introduce themselves as themselves, focused on their identity, announcing their goals and intentions to the group, each person starts to stand taller, feet planted more firmly in their place.
Smiles start to spread across their faces and they collectively and fully engage in the dialogue that takes place immediately after.
Most notably, though each participant inevitably takes something from the keynote speaker’s message that day, it is incredible to watch as, at the conclusion of the meeting, individuals approach others and initiate conversation about how they could help each other move forward on their stated goals.
The simple act of introducing one’s self in a new way generates new connections that (more often than not) result in an invaluable sharing of resources. In those simple, 30-second introductions, participants reclaim some sense of their unique and awesome self and take the first step in a new direction.