What Sampa The Great taught me about Identity

Before I outline the way to set powerful New Year’s Resolutions I need to tell you a story.

About a month ago I went to a concert by a new talented artist called Sampa the Great.

Sampa the Great is a female singer-songwriter from Zambia, currently living and studying in Sydney.

It was her 6th concert ever which is why I was delighted to see she had packed out the venue.

More than that, I was excited to hear her upbeat and inspirational lyrics.

As a music lover I’ve sampled my fair share of Hip Hop over the last 20 years and usually the audience is 90% male and the lyrics are full of expletives.

Sampa the Great’s music was uplifting.  Everyone was dancing and she attracted a gender balanced audience.

What was most impressive was the way her voice filled the venue.  Particularly when she appeared to be less than 5 foot tall.  Her presence filled the room.

She started talking. 

She said something like.  “Growing up, I never thought I’d have those two words beside my name “the Great”.

My heart stopped.

“But now, as Sampa the Great each day I remind myself to be great.  I am constantly reminded to produce great music, be great to others and encourage others to be great.”  (I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea)

I was ecstatic that this beautiful young artist was describing something that I teach my clients.

Your identity guides your behaviour.

Look at other artists who are clear about both their identify and their performance.

The Prodigy didn’t call themselves that to just produce music which sounds the same as everyone else.

Queen Latifa doesn’t get out of bed in the morning and start asking others for permission to produce her work.

DJ Yoda promises an experience similar to that which we all experienced the first time we saw Star Wars.

If Hip Hop doesn’t resonate with you think Superhero.

Superman doesn’t approach things in an ordinary way.

What’s this got to do with setting goals and resolutions?

1.      Clarify your Purpose

Your purpose is your “why”.

As an individual, it’s what gets you out of bed in the morning.   At an organisational and team level it’s something that everyone can rally behind.  It guides your decisions, particularly when crisis occurs and you find yourself in reactive mode.

My purpose is to help organisations, teams and individuals achieve “optimal productivity and happiness at work”.  When I lose confidence or something stressful happens I remind myself to focus on my purpose.  This helps me make the right choices.

Many of my clients are in financial services and their purpose is often something to the effect of “we help our clients achieve secure financial futures”.

Be clear on your purpose and you’ll navigate 2016 with clarity.

If you are a leader communicate to your team members what the purpose of your business is and help them understand how it aligns with their personal purpose.

2.      Commit to Good Habits

You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll say it again.  45% of the decisions we make each day are due to habit.

Once you understand your purpose decide on things you need to do consistently to achieve it.  Your habits.

So, if your purpose is to get healthy, you commit to healthy eating and exercising habits.

Start small and develop your habits step by step.  (Don’t try and go from zero to hero overnight as the habit change won’t be sustainable)

In week one you might start exercising once per week and eating a good breakfast each day.  In week two, you might start exercising twice per week and eating a good lunch each day.  Pretty soon you’re running half marathons (or whatever your definition of success is).

What are the habits that will help you achieve success in 2016?

It’s amazing what can be achieved through just one small habit change.

3.      Define your Identity

Next comes identity.

Identity helps guide our behaviour.  

If one of your goals for 2016 is to be fit and healthy, to be successful you should develop an identity as a “healthy person”.  When you identify as being a “healthy person” you’ll make better decisions about what you put in your mouth and how you move your body.

Choose an identity for 2016 which will inspire you.

The identity that guides my behaviour is “awesome” (DJ Orrsum for short).

When I wake up in the morning I tell myself “I’m going to have an awesome day”, when I work with clients I want to help them achieve “awesome outcomes”, when I spend time with my family & friends I want them to have an“awesome time” and I try and treat other human beings “awesomely”.

A lot of my clients come up with the word strategic.  (DJ Strategy perhaps?)

Quite often we find ourselves getting caught in tactical work which should be delegated to others, or simply not done.  When you set your identity to strategic, you will constantly remind yourself to behave that way and minimise tactical work that doesn’t add value.

One of my favourite clients recently defined their identity as Sassy.  It reminds them of their inner strength and ability to make confident decisions without asking for permission.

What do you want your identity to be?

Keep moving forward,


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