Bestselling author and educator Stedham Graham says nearly 6.5 billion people don’t know who they are.
While many may associate Graham’s name with his life partner, Oprah Winfrey, he is a man who stands very well on his own. Graham is a U.S. Army veteran, an educator, an author of eleven books, a successful businessman, and noted keynote speaker.
Graham’s most recent bestseller, Identity—Your Passport to Freedom: Knowledge of Self, delves into this very subject.
A Forbes article notes, “Graham contends that transforming your life means transforming your thinking. Moving from a follower to a leader; from a consumer to a producer…To do this, Graham says people must break the barriers that society has placed on them in order to control their lives. Brands, cars, houses, religion, race, gender, and relationships should not define who you are. However, for most people in the world they do.”
The secret to breaking free, according to Graham, is taking control of your own development. He believes that a commitment to education and lifelong learning are key to discovering who you are as an individual.
Graham believes our current educational system is flawed. People memorize what they are told to by others (teachers, bosses, instructors), take tests, get grades, and forget what they “learned” shortly after. This is because it has no relevance to their lives or passions. It is what others press upon them versus what the person wants for him or herself. Such a process detracts from human potential and leads to unhappiness, unfulfillment, and mediocre performance. To the contrary, building a life development plan around your true identity—who you really are—unleashes your full human potential, happiness, and fulfillment.
Discovering your identity comes down to two aspects: moving from follower to leader, and creating and realizing your vision.
He points out that you can’t lead anyone until you can lead yourself first. This entails self-mastery, self-development, and self-discipline that makes a leader capable of helping others perform at optimal levels.
When it comes to having a vision Graham says, quoting the Bible, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s impossible to find your way.” The key, Graham shares, is mastering one step at a time and breaking down your vision into small incremental segments you can easily accomplish. “A vision of the future must become daily goals and habits. This is how success occurs,” Graham explains.
Finally, Graham assures that in the journey of self-discovery, like all journeys, planning and securing the resources you need along the way is essential. “With today’s technology and unlimited access to information, this is easier than ever. The biggest challenge is what to do with all the information you have at hand.”
Parts of this article originally appeared in a Forbes article titled “Identity–Your Passport to Success” by Louis Efron
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