Walt Whitman said it best back in 1855: “I contain multitudes.” We all do. We all carry different identities around with us, often in competition with each other.
You might be a “Proud Italian” one minute, then a “Proud Democrat” the next. Or “The World’s biggest Elton John fan.” Or a husband. Or a wife. Or gay. Or straight. Or a Wall Street trader. Or a TV writer. Or a cowboy. Or a steel worker from Pennsylvania.
It goes on and on.
But what Balaji Srinivasan says, in his wonderful interview in a July 2022 Tim Ferriss podcast is not only do we have many different identities, our identities have their own hierarchies. The fact that you’re a Republican might be a bigger deal to you than your Scottish ancestry. Or the fact that you’re great at golf might be a bigger deal to you than your Jewish heritage. And these hierarchies are constantly shifting as well. Your Jewish heritage probably matters a lot more during Shabbat than your golf swing does.
This is by no means a bad thing. The reason we have so many complex identities is that the world is a complex place to begin with, and we were evolved to handle complex situations. And so here we are. Complex souls with complex identities in a complex world solving complex problems.
It’s the human condition.
For more podcast content like this, check out one of our latest episode reviews with Marshall Goldsmith on the Essentials of Leadership.