What Is Your Name?

Bryan was asked about his experiences as a student working for his MS in Information Systems & Technology Management. He was one of five students on a panel, addressing hundreds at a conference of higher education leaders. When asked, “Tell us about how you dealt with adversity during your studies,” Bryan said, “I had a lot of Courage—and when I say ‘Courage’ I’m referring to a classmate whose name was ‘Courage’.”

Bryan explained that he and Courage had first connected in class, and later on LinkedIn, then became partners in their academic journeys. When things became challenging for Bryan, Courage would encourage him and help him remember his goals for education and help him see a path through to the next step.

Courage became courage for Bryan. He became his name.

This reminds me of several Biblical names that were chosen for very particular reasons. Here are a few:
Isaac—”He will laugh.” (See Genesis 21:1-7)
Esau—”Hairy” and Jacob—”Supplanter.” (See Genesis 25:24-26)

The story I heard yesterday is about how a man named Courage became the literal personification of his name. This got me thinking about what a person’s name means. In this case, it was easy to see how Courage’s name means courage.

When I hear the name Andrew, I think of two people who are both sensitive and caring.

When I hear the name Ray, I think about someone who is kind and giving.

When I hear the name Kevin, I think about someone who has passion for his Heavenly Father.

When I hear the name Julie, I think of someone who is patient and full of grace.

Your name means something to people. When they hear your name what does it mean? Most of us do not have a name such as Courage, or Legend, or Truth. (If you did, that doesn’t necessarily mean your actual character qualities would exemplify the meaning of the word.) Nevertheless, your name means something to people.

When people hear your name, what do they think of? What does your name mean?

As a leader, I find this a weighty thought: The very mention of my name causes mental and emotional reactions in people that influence our interaction and my effectiveness as a leader. What are the mental and emotional reactions people have at the mention of your name? How does that influence your leadership?

You can influence that thinking. To the degree that you need to change how people think about you, it will take more time to effect a shift in the meaning of your name.

Be careful though. If you think that I’m talking about the currently popular idea of “creating your brand,” don’t go there! The idea of a “personal brand” is fraught with phoniness and surface-level image making. Instead, I’m talking about deep and authentic character qualities.

Your name, whether you think it or not, for good or for bad, is synonymous with the others’ estimation of your character.

Do you want your name to be Courage? Integrity? Authenticity? Truth? Trust?

Whatever you want your name to be, pursue that character in all you do to the deepest level of your being.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

Photo by Aaron Burden. Photo available at Unsplash under CC0 license. Image modified for size and space.

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