“Who Am I?” – Ruiko Yasuyama
Can you answer the question: “Who am I?”
I came to the TOMODACHI-Microsoft iLEAP Social Innovation and Leadership Program
because I want to answer this question. So far in Seattle, by continually asking it, I’ve learned two things.
The first, is the importance of self-care. In the first week, we did an activity called “Life as a River.” In this activity, scholars explained their life from their birth to their future, using the analogy of a river. Some of the scholars had a hard time because it was the first time they were asked to share their life stories openly. For me, however, I had a hard time in another way. It was not difficult for me to be open-minded and share my life story, because I have shared my life story so many times that I have a memorized way of doing so. Which means that when I tell my life story, it is just like reading someone else’s story. I felt really frustrated because I didn’t feel like the story was mine, even though this is who I am.
After this activity, I talked with one of the iLEAP staff members, and she asked me if I accepted myself. It was then when I realized that I accept myself only when I take actions to accomplish my dreams, but ignore who I am in my daily life. One of the staff members said, “We have a fire in our heart. If there are too many logs, the fire will die. We have to be careful when keeping our fire.”
During the program, I realized that I ignore my fire in my daily life, and my fire was almost dead, so I’m trying to let my fire burn. The second thing I learned is the importance of asking who I am as a leader.
We had leadership sessions in week 1 and visioning sessions in week 2. Through these sessions, I learned how important it is to ask who I am as a leader based for three reasons.
First, it is important because it helps leaders to decide their presence. Leaders have to show up as their full-self, their authentic self, in order to make it a safe space for members to be authentic. By continually asking who I am, I can figure out my authentic self.
Second, it is important because it helps leaders support their members. By asking who I am, leaders are more aware of who others are. It helps them to understand others’ strengths and weaknesses, and they can give the support that fits each person.
Third, it is important because we cannot know our vision before we realize who we are. Leaders should know their visions in order to lead other people. Visions are ideal images, so we can’t know it before we realize who we are.
I have learned a lot, but I’m still struggling with asking who I am. I believe I will ask this question for the rest of my life.