Continuing my series on  TEDxStanford, here are my notes from Joel Stein:

You are the sum of your experiences.

Identity is not discovered in a black box.

Joel Stein

This idea resonated with me, and continues to hum in the background of my thoughts.  If I am the sum of my experiences, then I need to pay attention to the experiences I’m having.  Moreover, I can take action to have the kinds of experiences that I want to have.

It’s very empowering.  And motivating.

This can play out in a couple different ways.  I can look for the kind of projects and the kind of work that I want to experience.  My identity as a writer comes from the experience of writing.  My identity as a lawyer comes from my how I practice law.  My identity as a wellness coach comes from teaching willPower & grace®.  And then there are so many experiences in my professional and personal life that help create and illuminate my identity in many subtle ways I’m not able to articulate.

If I am the sum of my experiences, then I also have an opportunity — even a responsibility — to have a variety of experiences.  And suddenly it’s like I have a permission slip to do things I’ve been hesitant about.  Now I know the value is in the experience alone.  (Or as Paul Madonna says, Everything is its own reward.)

You are the sum of your experiences.  So go have some experiences.  Feel free to try something new.  Feel free to go deep and quiet with one thing.  Be present to the experience, whatever it may be.  You’re in the process of creating yourself.