Choosing to go with who we are

Choosing to go with who we are

We’re surrounded by water. Everywhere I go in the valley it’s there. Visual. Audible. Always moving, gathering, flowing.

Sometimes pounding like thunder over the water steps. Other times gently reflecting the vastness of the sky.

Even up in the woods I hear it. And when it’s been raining, there’s ample evidence of why the valley was selected to be a reservoir 145 years ago. Water everywhere.

Standing in the brook I am conscious of its movement. It finds its way around any obstacle. Even forcibly after heavy rain, shifting beaches of stones and branches in its path.

This is the inevitability of water flowing to its lowest point. It cannot help it. Constantly, consistently flowing downhill, reflecting fundamental rules of nature: gravity plus the fluidity of water.

My reflections on the inevitability of moving water also connected with another, ongoing, stream of thought.

We don’t choose who we want to be – we discover it. Like opening a gift box we need the curiosity to look inside. What is there, is there. But we can give it air and bring it out into the light.


I’ve been privileged to observe and work with leaders and teams for some years. I love it when they step into a new realm of freedom because they see themselves clearly. And are comfortable to explore more.

My own journey has taken many twists and turns. Doing things that I knew I could do, but didn’t quite fit, or were only for a season.

Using various personality profiling tools, such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), are useful… But they never tell the whole dynamic story.

But yet I know how important it is to know who we really are. To have a sense of identity that isn’t just dependent on what we do.

A life well-lived requires us to metaphorically stand tall. Being comfortable in our own skin. Striding forward into wide open spaces and making our contribution to the ongoing creation of the world. Wherever and whatever that might be.

I know this will sound strange – especially for those who know me – but I’ve only just realised how much I am a thinker-seer. Spending a lot of time in my head playing with concepts and solutions. Obvious – yes! But not to me because I didn’t quite see myself that way…


We have been working with the Enneagram – an ancient personality typology that focusses on self-discovery and growth – for some time. And now I feel like I’m coming home… with echoes of T S Eliott:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, remembered gate

When the last of earth left to discover

Is that which was the beginning;

At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall

And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for

But heard, half-heard, in the stillness

Between two waves of the sea.

T S Eliott, Little Giddings from The Four Quartets

This also means intentionally developing habits that reflect and foster my identity. Being who I am – one small step at a time.

Embracing what is real

Back to water. It cannot do anything other than flow to the lowest point, unless it changes state. Simply speaking it can only become solid when the temperature drops so low for ice to form. And it can only become gas at boiling point. Otherwise, with varying degrees of viscosity, it flows ever downward until it reaches sea level. Its equilibrium.

I am called to be me. Here and now. In this beautiful valley where we’re stewarding the land and practicing hospitality. And thinking, observing, seeing and helping others see is part of that.

Inevitability isn’t fatalism. So I’d better get on with it and stop faffing around.

How about you? Do you have an answer for ‘who am I?’ – your identity – and is it shaping your future?

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