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<title>Small actions changing self-identity </title>
<p>
<strong>Have you noticed how a small action can change your self-identity?</strong>
</p><p>
Last week when I was learning scuba diving in Iceland, I took a snorkeling trip to my dive spot first. The snorkelers did everything the divers did, minus the tank and weights.
</p><p>
So a week later, when I returned to dive for real, I felt a little like an assistant teacher. <strong>I was helping the other tourists</strong> who had never been there before, showing them where to go, and helping them rinse their masks.
</p><p>
Even though the day before, I wasn't very confident about my diving skills (I had just got my scuba certification that day), <strong>taking on this role of assistant-teacher made me feel a bit like an expert</strong>. By the time I got in the water, I was confident and excited. (An hour later, I helped a panic-stricken diver get to the surface, really cementing this feeling.)
</p><p>
<strong>I think back about the other tiny actions that changed my self-identity.</strong>
</p>
<ul><li>
When I was 17, I met Kimo Williams, who taught me <a href="http://sivers.org/berklee">I could graduate college in 2 years</a>, which gave me an identity as an overachiever.
</li><li>
When I joined the circus at 18, I was unable to sleep in moving vehicles, so I became the designated driver of the circus truck. <strong>Having this role made me feel in charge, so I acted in charge, so I became in charge</strong>. After used to being the leader in this small way, I ended up being band-leader of all my bands after that, then starting my own company. It just felt like, “Well, that's who I am,” but how much of that was due to a decision to drive the circus truck?
</li><li>
When I was 22, my girlfriend's hippie parents (and the book <em>Island</em> by Aldous Huxley) inspired me to <strong>quit my safe and happy job</strong> at Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, and to never have a job again. I was now an <strong>entrepreneur, committed to creating a living from my own ventures</strong>.
</li></ul>
<p>
Hm, well, maybe that last one wasn't small, but the one action of quitting my job became some kind of proof that <strong>I'm the type that avoids my comfort zone to step into the unknown</strong>.
</p><p>
Recently, when I quit my company and was riding a scooter around Vietnam, a long-lost friend called out of the blue. When I told him what I was doing he just said, “Yep. That sounds like you!”
</p><p>
Based on what?
</p><p>
A series of small actions I've taken along the way, I guess. I could have just as easily made a single different decision earlier at 17, and be married with kids teaching guitar lessons in Chicago quite happily.
</p>
<ul><li>
Talking to a beautiful stranger.
</li><li>
Helping someone in need.
</li><li>
Starting a band.
</li></ul>
<p>
Like those life-changing coincidences - (how did you meet your spouse?) - <strong>taking a small action can snowball into huge changes that create a new you</strong>.
</p>
<img src="http://sivers.org/images/maze.jpg" width="496" height="401" alt="maze" />