As youngsters, my best friend and I used to enjoy dressing up in her mother's fancy clothes, donning her highest heels and clasping her elegant evening purses as we entered into an imaginary world where we were much older than our years. In those magical outfits we would become whoever we fancied and do whatever our dreams could conjure. Our imaginations were our only limit.

So it was with a twinge of fond reverie that I watched my youngest daughter mischievously slip into my most expensive pair of high heels.

From a distance I watched her wobbling clumsily, attempting to find her balance. She looked as though she might topple over at any moment.

Just then, her younger brother entered the room. Seeing him, my daughter assumed my most authoritative tone of voice and began to instruct him as though she were myself. With her back upright, shoulders steady and head held high, she looked as though the shoes were made for her, even though her small feet were inches short of reaching the heel end of the shoes.

The scene brought to mind the times in my life when I had been thrown into a position in which I felt like a little kid caught wearing her mother's high heeled shoes. I, too, first wobbled clumsily in search of some balance, teetering on a platform too high for my own comfort.

Take for example the first time that I was asked to deliver a formal talk to a gathering of women, each at least a decade older than my tender teen years. Almost shaking with fright as I prepared to leave home, I bumped into my father who perceived just how unnerved I was.

He looked at me penetratingly and said just a few words — words that would become my mantra whenever I was faced with a load that looked too large or burdensome for my slight shoulders to carry. "Remember who and what you are," he stated simply, before patting me on the shoulder, eyes smiling.

I took those words with me and repeated them over and over as I drove to that lecture and to many future lectures or situations where I felt like I was carrying too heavy a burden.

Standing before the crowd that night, feeling like I was wearing my mother's shoes, I did exactly what my youngster was doing now.

I acted the part. And with the act came the poise, posture and confidence — and even, surprisingly, the steady voice.

Because "remembering who and what you are" isn't about you, personally, at all. It isn't about wearing shoes that don't fit. It is, rather, about wearing shoes that represent all that you have, can and will be.

Because what and who each of us is, is something far greater than we are aware.

Realizing "who and what you are" is realizing the potential within yourself and remembering the long chain of history that each of us carries. It is remembering the privilege and responsibility of a rich past leading into our present and future.

When we recognize who and what we represent, and act upon it, we become it.