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What’s in a Name

Our names are an incredibly important part of our identity. They carry personal, cultural, familial, and historical significance. They also give us a sense of who we are and the community we each live in. A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity. Some might say it is the most important word in the world.

Our names are a way to get someone’s attention, it’s a sign of courtesy and a way to recognize them. Where does your name come from? Along with our given names, we also carry other names or titles of honor such as son, daughter, sister, brother, mom, dad, friend, and the lists go on.

Let’s explore how knowing where you come from and the honorary titles we each carry matter. As parents, we have the great opportunity to name our children. I was given a name that was common but the spelling was uncommon, that has given me reason to consider what our names tell about us. My parents changed the spelling to make it unique to me. Interestingly enough, our names all have underlying meanings, and thanks to the internet it isn’t hard to research your name. As it turns out my name can mean “earth”. I do in fact love to be in nature, dig in the dirt and enjoy gardening.

Do some of your own digging. What does your name mean? Is it passed down in a family line? If so, what can you learn about the person or people you were named after? Many times we can make connections with those that have come before us in linking genetics, abilities and interests. Names tell a story. Our last names also bring richness of heritage to our lives. Learning where they came from, and understanding both the struggles and successes they faced can teach us and guide us in our lives.

As mentioned earlier, we have our given names and then acquire titles and the responsibilities associated with them. We juggle being a parent and provider, a student and a friend, a co-workerand a humanitarian. Each of these titles not only bring responsibilities, but also opportunities.

As we navigate these opportunities, our purpose also becomes more clear, if we choose to see it. As a parent, for example, we want to teach, guide and care for our kids so they can grow to be responsible and independent members of society. As we are teaching these principles to our kids, it is good to reflect and consider, as a parent and provider,am I honoring my title and living up to and doing as I am teaching them? As we reflect and adjust where needed, this brings honor to our name and our reputation that will live on in admiration for generations to come. Likewise, our names could be seen or remembered with disdain if we choose not to make adjustments.

Another thought that occurred to me as I have thought about names is recognizing that names are essential to new relationships, as a person’s name connects to their identity and individuality. Therefore, using someone’s name and remembering it shows a greater connection to who that person is. 

I’m sure we have all had the experience of both forgetting someone’s name and being the one that was forgotten. How did it make you feel? No one is perfect and we certainly cannot remember everything. There are a few things we can do to help remember another person’s name:

1.Stop saying that you are bad at names. This is the biggest thing that stops people from learning names: they will tell you that they're "awful at remembering names."

Saying you can't do something sets your mind up to not do that thing. It's true with remembering names, and it's true with most anything else. Don’t set yourself up to fail.

2. As soon as you hear someone say their name, shake their hand, smile, and say it back to them with thoughtful intention. Let this person feel seen, heard, and important to you. It also gives opportunity for pronunciation clarification on harder names as well as allows the other person know they are not just a networking opportunity.

3. Make as many associations in your head with this person's name as you can. Do it quickly and discreetly. They don’t need to know what they are, but doing this step will greatly help their name stick in your mind.

4. Once the conversation is wrapping up, say the person's name again. Look them in the eye while you do it. The person won’t always remember what was said but they will remember how they felt.

5. If you do forget, own it and ask. Asking someone to say their name one more time isn't the end of the world. It shows that you're willing to admit a mistake. It shows that you're willing to ask for help. It shows that you're trying to do better by that person. If you mention something you talked about earlier in that conversation or the last time talked with them, it let's them know you remembered them and were listening in the conversation.

What’s in your name? What legacy am you going to leave? Time to do some digging and perhaps asking others about the meaning and strength they receive in their name and honorary titles.


At Believe, we are a community that is working to build and help others see the potential and good they have in themselves. Our names are our beginning, and our constant. As we recognize the power in our names and honorary titles, we can draw on its strength as it will aid us in moving forward creating good in the world. We would love for you to join us in making a difference.

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