The title of this post comes from the excellent, ongoing series of Make Something Edmonton, by Todd Babiak. In a recent post, he discusses métissage and the highlighting of native stories in the fabric of Edmonton’s identity, since it is a part of who we are. The muse for Todd’s post, and likewise this one, is the quote from Mr. Dwayne Donald:
In Cree and Blackfoot, words like this — about who you are, as a people — aren’t nouns. They’re verbs.Todd discusses that quote in the context of Make Something Edmonton. I on the other hand wanted to think about it from the perspective of self.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression: “You are what you eat”. In a way, what Mr. Donald is saying is that we are what we do; that our actions speak louder than our words or what we have. Mr Babiak’s extension, in promotion of what I’ll call his brand (much to his chagrin), is we are what we make. I have always thought about myself as a maker…of things, of relationships, of decisions…and valued myself based on what I deliver. But when I hear the question at cocktail parties “So, what do you do?” I always cringe…I don’t know how to answer. So if I don’t know what I do, do I know who I am?
While it’s true of everyone, I think it’s particularly true of entrepreneurs: what I do is not always what I _like _to do. That subtle shift between what do I do and what do I _like _to do is what begins to define my identity. When you find that thing which just puts your entire being at ease, that thing that calms and centers you regardless of what is going on around you, you’ve found the verb that begins to define your identity. This realization, in fact, has even changed my attitude to cocktail parties…I no longer ask “So, what do you do?”. Now, I ask “So what do you like to do? What is your passion”. That is a question that prompts what is certainly not “small” talk.
Mr Donald is known as Aipioomahkaa, “long distance runner.” I would argue that that is not because he _can _run a long way, but that he loves to, that he needs to. So, what do you like to do?