The 1% Rule of Identity

Whenever I find something intriguing, no matter what it is, I obsess about becoming just like that thing. For example, when I was a kid, I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So naturally, I became a ninja turtle. I fashioned nunchucks out of cut-up broom handles and shoe laces. I got pretty good at making Ninja Turtle weapons. Then I’d get bored, find something new and go try to be that instead.

This has carried on for my entire life. Just saw Iron Man? I’m walking out of that theater googling Khan Academy courses on math and science because (you guessed it) I am Iron Man. Captain America? Ditto. It’s also true for thought leaders I admire. Seth Godin? I am Seth Godin. Gary Vaynerchuk? Ditto. Or my more recent infatutations, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and David Heinemier Hanson of Basecamp.

It’s a ridiculous character trait that I’ve had since before I can remember. Why worry about being myself and what that even means, when I can just be someone else? That is until I fail at being any of those people or characters because (news flash) I am not Iron Man. Then the self-loathing begins and continues until I find the next new thing to be for a while.

As I’ve gotten older, the gaps between being one thing before being another have widened. The pace is not frenetic like it once was. What’s emerged in those gaps is something I didn’t expect – the beginnings of my own identity. It’s a completely unique tapestry that’s made up of a whole lot of one percents, half percents and quarter percents from every facet of life that I’ve experienced up until now.

This isn’t unique to me. We all do this. I guess the question is, if you’re making yourself out of all these percents and fractions of percents, where are you getting them from?

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