Identity vs. Identification

I’ve been thinking about some of the concepts I read about in Atomic Habits. I enjoyed the author’s thoughts on changing your beliefs to change your outcomes. Of central importance is identity. If you don’t believe you’re the sort of person who would take the steps (i.e., form the habits) necessary to get the outcome you want, you’re less likely to do so. I’ve been discussing this with friends. Today, one of them shared a passage from a book he’s reading:

Identity is very deeply who you are—not who someone else thinks you are or wants you to be. Your identity is how you define yourself, while your identification is how others define you. How you identify yourself does not necessarily need to match how other people identify you. While it is true that our families and communities play an important role in shaping how we see ourselves, ultimately, how others attempt to define you is no substitute for how you answer the question “Who am I” for yourself.

This resonated with me. I love how the author describes identity as who you believe you are and makes a distinction between identity and identification. Subtle, but powerful.

As I reflect on my founder friends and myself, I think this is true. We all believed we were entrepreneurs before we started companies—even when others believed we were something else. That strong sense of identity guided us to take the actions that led to starting companies and ultimately to entrepreneurial success.

Who do you believe you are?