I am an integrator. And it is my business to know how to do that and help others do the same.
Humanity has been struggling with the tension of living in dualities since the beginning of time. This four-part series will discuss the impact of living in this tension and the need to integrate.
Part One: The professional me and the personal me.
The professional me and the personal me is the same individual; the “who” I am, engages with others and the world around me in the same way. It is the situation that changes, not me. Our values, personality, abilities, hopes, vision, energy, outlook, and so much more are there for us, and with us, at all times. Understanding the context in which we find ourselves, the focus and needs, will influence how we engage. But appreciating that there is a core “me” will enable us to “move” in, out and across the myriad of our daily experiences.
Identity is the theme of countless discussions that take place on a day to day basis both personally and professionally; whether with friends and family, at work, on social media or at coffee houses. But who is the “I” in identity?
It’s mind boggling to consider that there was never a time when who we are wasn’t made up of others; our biological parents and the DNA chain of those who came before them. Carl Sagan doesn’t limit our DNA to earthbound elements. He said:
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
Identity has been defined and described in philosophy, the arts and sciences since the beginning of civilization.
Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (121 – 180) who was a Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor has been recorded to have said:
“This that I am, whatever it be, is mere flesh and a little breath and the ruling Reason.”(Haines translation)
Compare this to today’s reflection of what defines us by Mark Zuckerberg:
“Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They’re connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not on it now.” (Emphasis is mine.)
But, as everything else in nature, the subject of identity is not simply black and white; we can’t make it, or succeed, in the duality. Even on “The Island of the Colorblind”, people see the integration of dark and light to perceive the multiple shades of black and white.
“Drawn to the Micronesian island of Pingelap by reports of a community of people born totally colorblind, Dr. Sacks set up a clinic in a one-room dispensary. There he listened to patients describe their colorless world in terms rich with pattern and tone, luminance and shadow.” – Oliver Sacks
The duality of black and white, dark and light, has influenced our perceptions; what we can or cannot see. In both our personal and professional lives, it is more manageable to work with ideas, strategies, plans, goals, relationships, feelings and so on, if we place them in an opposite:
Life/Death; Good/Evil; Right/Wrong; Pleasure/Pain; Love/Hate; Beautiful/Ugly; Rich/Poor; Success/Failure; to name just a few.
These states, however useful they are in organizing ourselves, do not exist; they have been created by us to help us make sense of who we are, in relation to others, and our environment.
In reality, however, the duality and its polarity, prevent us from understanding who we are and how to engage with others and the world around us. Each persona of the duality, the personal me and the professional me, are fragments of a whole. In this way, we can only function in part.
Look out for part two coming out next week.
“Facing My Shadow” – taken by Sara Jacobovici
Australia view of sunset from Palm Island www.flickr.com