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About Identity

After thousands of clinical hours and extensive work with all kinds of organizations, Desyree developed a deep understanding of identity and its importance, both to people and organizations. Ironically, identity is easily overlooked or entirely unseen not because of its insignificance, but rather due its centrality to so much of who we are, what we do and how we feel.

What is identity and why is it important?

The concept of identity relates to our sense of self. It is essentially the answer to the question, "Who are you?" Few of us choose our identity. It is heavily influenced not only by our experiences but also by our relationships, cultural norms and societal values.

Identity is important because it can literally impact every major aspect of our lives - our choices both big and small, relationships, careers, spirituality, sense of purpose in life and overall happiness.

What does identity mean 

for organizations?

Organizations, like people, have identities. Just as identity has a major impact on people, it has a major impact on organizations. For example, studies show that organizations that have a strong identity perform better than organizations that don't. 

Strong organizational identities are coherent, which means they effectively connect three elements:

Leinwand and Mainardi. The 3 elements of a strong corporate identity. Harvard Business Review. December 9, 2014.

(1) the value an organization offers to customers or clients

(2) the unique capabilities that create organizational value

(3) the set of products and services that best leverages the organization's value-creating capabilities

What is Core Identity?

Because so much of our identity, our sense of self, is the result of external influences that most of us don't choose, there can often be a disconnect between the questions "Who are you?" and "Who are you, really?" Similarly, there can often be a disconnect between the questions "Who am I?" and "Who do you want to be?" When people ask, "Who am I, really?" they are trying to understand their sense of self absent the layers of influences that they didn't choose. The identity that remains after these layers are figuratively peeled away is the "core" identity.

What is Authenticity and How Does it Relate to Identity?

Authenticity is the sense that your choices and the way you live your life are aligned with your core identity. Feeling a disconnect between who you are and who you want to be can be a source of great inner conflict and a major catalyst for change. It is a reason why many people come to therapy. Self-determination, or acting in accordance with one's core self, is ranked by some psychological experts as one of three basic psychological needs, along with competence and relatedness.

Psychology Today, Identity,

Identity Issues that Impact People

Identity Conflict

Identity conflict is a disconnect between the narrative you want to tell about yourself (the identity you want for yourself) versus the narrative of some external influence such as society, culture, family(the identity others want for you). Most of us have some amount of identity conflict, and managing it is a part of life.

Identity Crisis

An identity crisis occurs when we feel that the conflict between our existing identity and the identity we want is no longer manageable. It is usually prompted by some challenge to our sense of self. Resolving an identity crisis often requires some change or response that addresses the challenge and allows one to act with authenticity and self-determination,

Identity-Based Trauma (IBT)

IBT refers to the psychological, emotional and physical responses to a distressing event or act where that event or act attacks, marginalizes or implicates one or more social identity factors of the traumatized person. These experiences are traumatic in a way that is distinguishable from an identity crisis because the person often perceives no way to address the challenge to one's sense of self. The challenge is rooted in social identities (such a race, gender) over which the person has no control.

Identity Issues that Impact Organizations

Weak Identity

A weak organizational identity is incoherent, meaning that it fails to clearly connect the value it provides to customers or clients, its capabilities, and the set of products and services that leverages its value-creating capabilities.

Identity Conflict

An organizational conflict of identity can happen when there isn't consistent messaging or management regarding the organization's core value proposition. This can happen when an organization doesn't thoughtfully respond to market or other pressures. Maybe they moved away from a consistent message about the organization or its products and services. Maybe the organization doesn't fully understand its ideal customer. Returning to a fundamental analysis of "who are you" can correct organizational identity conflict.

Identity Crisis

An organizational identity crisis is like identity conflict on steroids. It's got all the inconsistency and disconnect across value proposition, capabilities, and products and services. In addition to this disconnect, a crisis involves a notable adverse impact on performance, whether measured by profits or some other metric. Resolving an identity crisis often requires significant changes, such as revisiting core branding strategy, restructuring value-creating deliverables, or modifying products and services.


"We live in a cynical world, a cynical world; and we work in a business of tough competitors."

- Jerry Maguire, 1996

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