The World of Work Project

Who am I?

Charles Horton Cooley, an American sociologist at the start of the 20th century, said: “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am“, a statement which helps to capture the complexity identity.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Who am I?

Sorry, who am I again?

Charles Cooley’s quote is a useful snapshot of the complexity that individuals face when developing self awareness and trying to determine who they are as individuals.

What he is essentially saying in his quote is that most people cannot help but be influenced by the perceptions that others have of them. In my interactions with you, perhaps what matters most is how I think you perceive me. It’s my belief of your views and opinions that affects how I behave around you and, to some extent, what I think is possible.

“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am”

Charles Horton Cooley

When individuals look to develop their self-awareness and character, they may spend time challenging how they see themselves. When doing so, it’s important to challenge how you think others see you as well.

Interestingly, this is something that the coaching industry also tries to help people do as well.

The World of Work Project View

We love this quote and think it’s a great little saying. We don’t have more to say about it, we just wanted to share it.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This past is based on work by Charles Horton Cooley. You can read more in his book: “Human Nature and the Social Order“.


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