identity transformation

On one of the evenings during my Life Design Catalyst Facilitators Training, it became clear that it’s important for me (and other educators) to help students understand the concept of “knowing yourself.”  Before bed, I was called to read “Chapter 11: People Want Your Brand to Participate in Their Transformation” (from the book, “Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller); as he talked about customer transformation, I started to connect his concept with helping students with their “identity transformation.  Here’s what I came up with:

Who do you want your students to become?  How do they see themselves?  How do you help them improve the way they see themselves?  How do you contribute to students’ transformational journey? 

Every student wants change, wants to be somebody different, somebody better. They want to have more confidence, to be doing good, to be more self-accepting, to know that they belong and that they matter. Students want to transform their lives to become better versions of themselves.

Our role (as educators) in this process is to be guides to help them with IDENTITY TRANSFORMATION.  Identity transformation is the process of changing who you are, the way you think about yourself, the way you are viewed by the world, and the characteristics that define you – for the better.  Identity transformation fills the gap between who you are now and who you want to be in the future.

Here are a few self-reflective questions to encourage the exploration of identity transformation (Questions in parentheses can be asked when working with a partner):

    • How would I describe me? (How would you describe yourself?)
    • How do I see myself? (How do you see yourself?)
    • How do others see me? (How do others see you?)
    • How do I want others to see me? (How do you want others to see you?)
    • How do I want to be perceived by others? (How do you want to be perceived by others?)
    • What do I want others to say about me? (What do you want others to say about you?)
    • Who do I want to become? (Who do you want to become?)
    • What kind of person do I want to be? (What kind of person do you want to be?)

In our students’ transformational journey, we – as the advisor, coach, or educator – help them resolve their internal and external struggles, then inspire them with an aspirational identity that changes their lives.  The student is the hero of the story and we are the guides to help them get there and let them know that they have changed, that they are different, and that they are better.  As the guide, this work must be from the heart, where the most useful tool in your toolbox is love – love for the work, love for your students, and love for yourself.  And for identity transformation to succeed, we must be OBSESSED about the transformation of our students as we seek to help them improve the way they see themselves and make positive change in their lives. 

I appreciate you taking the time to read this; if you have any thoughts, please feel free to share in the comments.


4 thoughts on “identity transformation

  1. I assume that there are stages to a person learning more about their identity and becoming comfortable with the identity that the person has chosen. I’m curious as to when to begin this reflection process with incoming students (for example, should we ask prospective students at Open Houses about their road to their identity journey
    they are want to achieve?) Or do these reflective questions start at the academic orientation that they are attending? How do we know when students have become comfortable with their chosen identity? I would love to learn more about this theory and process.

    • Hi Harriet. I don’t know if there’s a specific time when this could happen for students; however, our Life Design Institute is (hopefully) working on a project with the state of North Carolina to implement forms of identity transformation throughout K-12. We’ve incorporated various tools (various values assessment, personality assessment, and strengths assessment) to help with this process. I’m sure you’ll learn more how we’ll do this as we continue to move forward with this work. I’m a big believer that people are ready for stuff like this at different stages in their lives, but better to have the tools and use at a later (or much later) time in life than to never have experienced them in the first place.

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