Provision #140: Change your Name

LifeTrek Provision

The conversation continues about the impact ofhandwriting on the deeper levels of personality. One reader replied, “I’mskeptical as well but I will try it in the spirit that (1) there is no risk,and (2) I have everything to gain if it works.” Especially, I might add, if youhave sloppy handwriting.

Another reader replied about the interconnectednessof life, with specific reference to chaos theory. “Like the butterflies in NYimpacting winds in Japan.” There’s no way to change any part of who we arewithout changing every part of who we are. It’s all connected. For moreinformation about chaos theory, readChaos: Making a New Science byJames Gleick (Penguin Books, 1988).

This same reader observed that her son had recentlydecided to “write like an A student” in order to enhance his experience atschool. Both of them are now exploring the connection between handwriting andpersonality. You can contact this reader, a professional coach herself, throughher Web site (

On to this week’s tip. Everyone should have theopportunity to do this at least once in his or her life. I’ve done it twice:change your name. What can be simpler, yet more profound, than changing yourname?

In ancient times one’s name was a window to thesoul. One’s name could express kinship, thanksgiving, wishes, divinity,acknowledgment, trust, occupation, or personal qualities of being. Knowingsomeone’s name was a source of power. When Moses asked for God’s name, Godrefused. Why? Because revealing the Holy Name was too personal, close, anddangerous. Because it would compromise God’s freedom, initiative, and mystery.

Over time, the ancient significance of names becamehidden, lost, and ignored. “A rose by any another name is still a rose.” So whocares about names? This LifeTrek Provision argues that you should care.

When I went away to college, 27 years ago, I changedthe pronunciation of my name, back to its original Swiss-German roots. When Igot married, 23 years ago, I hyphenated my name with my wife’s name toemphasize our vision of the relationship, the partnership, we were about toform. But this wasn’t the only option. We thought seriously about picking aname that represented our core values and hopes for the future.

I know people who have done just that: legallychanged their name to a more descriptive appellation. I know others who’vechanged their name after baptism or divorce. I know still others who’ve changedtheir name to honor a living or deceased relative. Then there’s the easiestroute of all: develop a nickname.

Whatever the circumstances, the important thing isnot the name that gets chosen but the conscious act of choosing one’s name.When that happens, it becomes very much a window to the soul. Instead of beingsomething that’s just always been there, without much thought or significance,it becomes something that has true meaning and power in one’s life. It goesbeyond a statement of one’s ancestry to a statement about who we are and who weare becoming. Claim the name and you end up a different person than you werebefore.

Keep this in mind when you’re choosing names forchildren. You may want to choose names based on meaning rather familiarity. Insome cultures, children are called by their birthday until they demonstratetheir personality. Then a unique and meaningful name is chosen. However we getthere, unique and meaningful names can be simple yet profound agents ofpersonal transformation.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of

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