@edkang99 Life (re)Startup Blog:

#HIITO: High Intensity Interval Time & Transformation Optimization

How MDNA Impacts Reputation Not Identity

Taking a quick break from our 20 Lies We Believe series, I wanted to quickly address some thoughts about identity and reputation in the context of MDNA. Both are extremely important for professional success and personal fulfillment. However, they are often quite misunderstood and major disparities between the two can create challenges.


First, there are three components to define:

  • Identity
  • External Reputation
  • Internal Reputation

Before we get to how your intrinsic motivation plays a part, let’s break each one down.


Identity is straightforward enough. This is who you are. Your identity can be broken down into three subcategories: physical, intellectual and spiritual. Your physical identity is defined by DNA, such as your race and physical attributes. While your DNA does not determine destiny, it plays a large part in your overall blueprint of life. Intellectually, you have an identity, such as your profession, marital status and more. And finally one has, whether you are religious or not, a spiritual identity (this one people tend to overlook the most).

External and Internal Reputation

Identity becomes confusing, even challenged, when factoring in the concept of reputation. External reputation is how people see you. The problem here is that how people see you can become how you see yourself, which then overtakes identity. For example, you may be a female with red hair, because of your genetic history, as your physical identity. But what if all people did was see you as a fiery “ginger” and maybe assume you are from Ireland. If you believed this external reputation enough, you may start to change your internal reputation to fit, even though it really had nothing to do with your true identity.

This is just a simple illustration. It can get quite complex.

For example, I am my father’s son. This is my identity. Nothing can change that (legally and intellectually it can change, but spiritually, this identity is not my choice). But growing up, I experienced quite a bit of shame because I couldn’t seem to live up to family expectations. I didn’t feel a sense of pride or belief in my identity from them. My external reputation was that I was a disappointment because of my choices and lack of “Korean” qualities since I was born Korean-Canadian. This quickly became an internal reputation and I found myself acting out and sabotaging my relationship as a son, which thwarted my identity. Today, when I accept my identity, and appropriately reconcile external and internal reputations, I can embrace being a son and love my parents as their child.

That was a personal illustration. The juxtaposition and clash between identity and reputation can impact our professional careers as well. We won’t go into it but I am sure you can imagine the possibilities.

The MDNA Impact

First, MDNA is not your identity. MDNA is nothing more than a language and label of your intrinsic motivators. Just as DNA does not define your destiny, neither does MDNA. And just like DNA, your motivations are simply a blueprint that you can work from. But you have to choose to do it.

This means that MDNA can have a great impact on your internal reputation. Many people are very encouraged to find out about themselves. Self awareness and pattern recognition have great benefits. MDNA can help you define how you see yourself. And in many cases, bring great relief because there are others like you. You are not alone and don’t have to isolate.

Then you can use MDNA to impact the way others see you, which will change your external reputation. Let me just say there is nothing wrong with a reputation. External reputation is important and can be very influential in helping you with success and fulfillment. Take integrity for instance. Having an external reputation for integrity goes a really long way.

As a UCD (Unyielding Conviction & Design) I am intrinsically motivated to solve problems amidst chaos. I am highly motivated to go from zero to something in terms of strategic solutions. It’s not that other people can’t do the same. It’s just I happen to be more intrinsically motivated than others and therefore it’s a great fit for me. So using my MDNA, I have gained a reputation for being someone people call when they don’t know where to start with a problem. This makes me feel great and has a positive impact on my internal reputation.

The danger here is that if I hit a problem I cannot solve, my internal reputation gets challenged. This ultimately correlates to a mistaken identity. In other words, if I can’t solve a problem, I have a low level of internal reputation which leads me to believe my identity is worthless. I lose confidence and faith in who I am, spiritually, intellectually and even physically. This isn’t theory. I have been in this exact place, which is the reason I harp on identity and legitimacy so much.

Still with me? There is one more factor I need to highlight.


In MDNA 3.0, I began integrating emotional intelligence into our framework. I simply could not ignore how brain science greatly shapes our intrinsic motivations. I define emotional intelligence as the capacity to recognize emotions, yours and others’, and respond appropriately. And it isn’t hard then, to see the link between EQ and reputation.

Proper EQ development will help you use your MDNA appropriately in all situations. Instead of emotional outbursts or shutting down, you can use MDNA as a situational tool to respond to any situation, using your intrinsic motivations as an asset versus a liability. I can’t stress this enough. EQ is not some HR buzzword. It is the real deal. I, for one, am living proof of its importance.

That’s it for now. Take a moment to ponder identity, reputation, your MDNA and EQ. Hopefully this gets you a few steps further on your tremendous journey towards success and fulfillment. Back to our regular scheduled programming!

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