The Power of Identity (Part 1)

In my previous post “Who You Choose To Be?”, I wrote that Po, the main hero in Kung Fu Panda 2, needed a shift at his self-identity before his total transformation of “awesomeness” was complete.

It’s the same with us. Our true potential can only be realized and real lasting change takes place when we do not just make a change at the cognitive, emotional or behavioral level, but all the way at the self-identity level. It’s like a paradigm shift.

What’s a paradigm shift? There are quite a number of explanations, but the one I like best is like this: Imagine you’re given a map to travel a long distance from point A to B. You can make changes and improvements along your journey in many ways: You can walk faster, you can run, you can take fewer breaks and rests in between, or you can hire a vehicle. You can work harder and smarter, but none of these is as big a change as a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift is like exchanging an old (wrong) map with a new (accurate) one.

A paradigm shift changes everything. A change at the level of self-identity is like that.


paradigm shift

The shift happens when self-identity changes

What’s Your Identity? Are You a Lion or a Sheep?

Identity is how you see yourself. It’s who you think you are as a person. Your perception of yourself determines what you do, talk, behave and even your belief system. How does a change in self-identity changes a person totally? This is best explained using a story.

I remember coming across a well-told story about a sheep-lion that goes something like this.

There was a lion who was separated by his family ever since he was a little cub, and was raised by a sheep family. He would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep. He behaved and talked exactly like the flock of sheep around him. He actually believed that he was a sheep. After all, he had been living among the sheep for years.

One day another lion came across the flock of sheep and was hungry. He let out a loud roar and ran into the flock to catch his lunch. To his amazement he found a lion among the sheep, afraid and was trembling at the sound of his roar.

The lion went straight to the sheep-lion and asked him, “What are you doing among these sheep?”

The sheep-lion was shaken and replied meekly, “I’m a sheep. Please don’t eat me.” He was pleading and begging for his life.

The lion reacted angrily, “What?! No, you’re not! Come with me!”

The sheep-lion quietly followed the lion as he feared for his life. They walked for a very long time covering great distances and height reaching a mountain. The sheep-lion was tired, not because his physical body couldn’t carry him, but because he thought sheep couldn’t walk and climb very far.

Soon they arrived at a clear water spring near the top of the mountain. The lion took the sheep-lion to the pool and said “Look!”

The sheep-lion looked at his own reflection in the water, paused in shock, and then let out a mighty roar. At that moment, he realized how hungry he was!


The sheep-lion suddenly realized who he was, his self-identity had shifted. Before the “revelation”, it was probably little use to encourage him to run faster, behave more boldly,  or roar loudly, simply because he had always seen himself as a sheep.

At the moment when the sheep-lion saw his own reflection and knew his true identity, everything changed for him. He was never the same again. Suddenly grass just doesn’t cut it anymore, now he wants real meat. He suddenly realized how hungry he had been all his life.

In the same way, a change in self-identity brings instant transformation and is extremely powerful. I’ll write more on that in my next post. Stay tuned.


  1. Lahoma Schaffer says:

    This is an outstanding post. Thanks a lot for making the effort to write this out for us. It truly is a great post!

  2. I thank you humbly for sharing your wisdom.

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