The Roles we play

Ideas unapplied are untested knowledge. Limits cannot be taught, only tested.

"Come Monday morning, we still clamber back into the monkey suits of our everyday roles - parent, spouse, employee, boss, neighbor, but then we know they just costumes with zippers."

Born or made?

I used to ask the question "Are entrepreneurs born or made?"

Is the role we play one we are born into, or does it evolve?

Do you ever feel stuck in a role? Ever wish you were someone else? If so, it's time to see the distinction between ourselves and the roles we play.

To large extent, you are made up of a combination of DNA, upbringing, social conditioning (you generation), and fate.

Mastery in any topic takes time. In some cases, hundreds of hours of practice will precede mastery. There's always more to learn. No matter how far you've come, maintain a growth mindset to continue to thrive.

Being born into poverty may predispose you towards a life in poverty, but many prove otherwise. What's the difference? They've stepped out of the role they were born into.

Two views of life

You can view life in two ways: as a rehearsal or as a live performance.

The most important lesson I learned from an individual I hold in the highest regards is this:

It's what you do when nobody's watching that matters.

We become who we rehearse ourselves to be. We must fake it until we make it.

Who writes the script? Who directs the scene?

Life need not be a low budget production.

Not only are we the lead actor, but write the script, direct the actors, produce, and critique our life's work - our ultimate masterpiece.

All lives are significant. When we begin to believe ours is more significant, we'll feel inferior. You can't feel superior without feeling inferior as well.

Some of us are self-directed, but many are waiting to be led.

To a large extent, to live a life of our desire, we must be self-directed. Others can only offer suggestions, provide inspiration, and give feedback.

We are not only playing the lead role, but must write the script, and direct our own 'feature film.'

What role do you play in the films of others?

Are you directed by others, or self-directed?

Don't confuse the role player with role being played.

Impact of other roles

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn

How do the roles of others impact our role?

As I observe my own role more closely, I notice it tends to change depending on who I'm with. Perhaps it's that we show up the way others expect us to. To show up any other way disrupts a balance. We need some certainty in our life, and often look to others to be that rock. When people we know began to take on roles unfamiliar to us, we may find ourselves getting upset with them.

Often the beginning of the end of a friendship occurs when that friend no longer plays the role we once knew them as. It's nothing personal. They've begun to take on a new role and we can either accept them in their new role or cling to their past. Here's a tip: If you want to maintain the friendship, you need to accept them in their new role.


3 steps to any outcome

Some decide early in life the role they want to play. At a young age, Sting wanted to be a musician. He began rehearsing the role of one long before he became one.

Those who are encouraged to pursue their chosen passion, gain confidence over time, and achieve mastery through a strong enough work ethic. Even still, luck and timing fall into the factor called 'fate' which we don't control. We may be ahead of our time, or we may run out of runway before we get off the ground.

The recipe to any outcome:

Seems pretty straightforward doesn't it?

We can easily get hung up in any of the 3 phases.

Step 1: Choose

First, with so many choices, it can be difficult to choose an outcome. Buyers remorse is a real issue. We fear the choice we make won't be the best one, so we delay choosing until it's too late.

I feel much of my life was like that. I never fully committed to anything because I wanted to keep my options open. Until those options expired. Then I find myself with the only option left.

Step 2: Begin down a path

The next step requires we choose a path. There are many road that lead to the same result. But again, if we fear making the wrong choice, we many never begin. In reality, there are going to be pros and cons with every path available. Although we want the 'easy' path, it's rarely available. Every path will have it's own set of challenges and obstacles.

Step 3: Work until it's achieved

A life of leisure makes work seem like a 4-letter word. The key is to find reward in the work itself. When the work is what we'd do whether or not we would be paid to do it, we've discovered where the needs of the world intersect with what we want to do.

The most successful individuals enjoy what they do. It didn't necessarily begin that way. Initially, work is hard. In fact, to an outsider, work that appears hard may in fact be easy to the worker.

Does it have to be hard? Aspects will be, but overall the pursuit of our life's work should not feel like a hardship.

None of us are born with the confidence, work ethic, thick skin, or beliefs necessary to achieve our greatest version of ourselves. We need to do some reprogramming.


After interviewing successful entrepreneurs, A common thread they all shared was what seemed to me like an unusual amount of self-confidence in their ability to do whatever it was they had to do. Was the self-confidence a result of their success or did it already exists? It was apparent that a 'self-confident program' had been installed in their OS at some point. Perhaps it was when they achieved something others said they couldn't. Negativity can be a powerful motivator. They had to muster the confidence when nobody else would.

A belief exists before evidence to validate the belief does.

What are the programs you need succeed?

We will likely discover many of the programs we run may be keeping us from achieving our full potential. Sometimes referred to as our shadows, these are our beliefs that limit us.

Who you become is who you rehearse yourself to be. When you wake up, you have to be someone, because nobody is not an option. Why not play the role of the person you most admire?

One of the rarely tapped gifts available to all of us is the ability to assimilate the best qualities of those we most admire.

Let others be your guide.

At some point, the absolute pinnacle would be to wake up in the body of someone you deeply admire, love, and are grateful for. If that's you already, then you've got it.

Don't lose it, and always keep your guard up. Are you playing at the right level or do you need to level up?

To become an author, rehearse first. Whenever the opportunity to write comes up, write! Vincent Van Gogh rehearsed to be a painter everyday. Although his decided late in life to become a painter, he produced over 800 paintings before he passed away.

Everyday, rehearse the best version of yourself. You 2.0 is not a fantasy. Ver 1.1 is the result of small incremental improvements. One day, you'll discover you've become who you rehearsed yourself to be. It will be you 2.0. Then you'll start working on Ver 2.1, and eventually release You 3.0.

If, for every hour of every day you think like the person you wan to be, your actions will follow. Your behaviors define how you exist to others, and reality follows.

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. It might just be a duck suit, but nobody can tell.

Can you stay in character until you become the character?

Set aside any fears of failure, you are simply playing a role. Someday you'll win an oscar for your performance.

High achievers rehearse until they assimilate the role. To perform the role of his own role model, Jim Carrey became Andy Kaufman in the movie Man on the Moon.

Become the best version of yourself and win the academy award for your life. Make us want to see the sequel.

We can write scripts of how we want our lives to run, but it's not until we run the script that we truly know if we have what it takes to play the part.

Once the scripts are run, the bugs are revealed.

We should expect failure at our first attempts, time and time again our conviction will be tested. Failure is progress unless we fail to see the errors. Do you want it bad enough? Are you willing to make the sacrifices? Can you see beyond the limitations of yourself and others?

I admire actors like Will Smith who admit that what they lack in talent they make up for in tenacity.

You will be surprised how quickly others believe you, but it begins with a firm belief in yourself.

You'll likely be horrible at the start.

Until there's undeniable evidence you can't do it, believe you can and you will.

Most of the time, it won't get it right. The 'process' will need to be debugged. It takes time, so be patient.

The error messages we get are what we need to update the code and run the script again.

Never question what you are doing.
You know needs to be done, do it or delegate it.
You know what needs be said, so say it.
You know what needs to be written, so write it.
You know what you should be eating, so eat it.

It begs the greater question, why don't we do what we know needs to be done? What's holding you back?

Keep your focus on what you are doing. Don't question it. Don't raise doubts on whether you should be doing it. Finish what you begin. The only thing you should be doing is what you are doing.

The only thing you shouldn't be doing is thinking about anything but what you are doing - it's called focus.

The only time to question what you are doing is before you begin. Once you begin, don't hesitate, question, or let your focus wither until completion. Everything else can wait.

What you are doing defines your role.

What you do is the role you play. A writer doesn't read while they write. A chef can't eat while he cooks. A publisher can't market while he publishes.

Our roles define who we are, and who we are is in a constant state of change.

At any given moment, our role can shift. The best we can do is give ourselves completely to the role we enter into at any moment.

Who Am I?

  1. A conduit for content
  2. A catalyst for change
  3. A docent for dreams
  4. A knowledge transfer agent
  5. A spark for action

The roles others play

Let me return to an episode (as in sitcom), when I received a series of highly negative emails from a disappointed client. He proceeded the final email with a request for a refund. I see now that the emails reflected someone who playing a role. If I gave the actor a name, it would have been 'Disappointed Dave.'

In fact, in a fairly premeditated fashion, he was likely attempting to preempt a refund he fairly felt was due.

In response to each email, I stayed up beat and made an authentic effort to help him see the positive side of the situation.

Despite the negativity that flowed through is carefully crafted emails, I responded in the most positive way possible. I also attempted to find the constructive criticism so that I could perhaps improve in the future.

The responses would likely come in handy someday, as authors who have high expectations are certain to be disappointed.

If an author feels better for placing blame somewhere besides themselves, I'm happy to oblige. I am able to take the criticism in stride because I break the 4th wall and see the roles others play (usually unknowingly).

Further reading