What are all the roles you live and perform? I have often said that your life is a movie, and you are the star playing the lead role. While you are the most important role player in your own life, you often also have other lead roles to play and various supporting roles. I have known people who have identified up to eight roles or more that they have to juggle and separate. They have to engage mentally in the moment between being a mother, a wife, a support person, a coach, a salesperson and so on. Part of the evolution into becoming an elite level performer is the ability to really take note and be able to shift into and out of the various roles we have accountabilities in.
For those who often struggle with performance and life in general, there are often difficulties not only clearly defining the various roles, but also because there is a lack of clarity. There is also a lack of engagement. This can entail such examples as not mentally finishing one job in one role before trying to get into another job in another role and never quite doing any of it fully and entirely at a high level. Nothing really ever gets finished, leaving a lot of un-resolved loops open in our thinking. This is mentally exhausting and frustrating, which often leads to fatigue and stress. Many people really struggle both consciously and subconsciously with unfinished tasks and projects and it takes a large toll.
Role conflicts can be solved by people on the fly if they have clarity and equal love and passion.
Let’s say you have deep passion and love for your husband and your career equally (it’s just a hypothetical). You are a wife who works for a corporation. When everything is normal and there’s no emergency, there is no conflict about which takes precedence. When the corporation has an emergency and your husband's situation is normal, then your career, job and the corporation are going to take precedence. You might not make it home each night at a regular time, you might not make dinner, or you may have to skip time that is normally allotted to your family as a wife and mother. If the corporation is normal and your husband has an emergency, your husband takes precedence. You might not get to work at your usual time, or you may not work at all for a day or more. Your attention span while you are there may be waning and somewhere else. The big conflict comes when there’s an emergency at the corporation and with your husband. Your husband should take precedence, but this is not automatic. Hence, some conflict.
As different as it may sound, there may not be clarity on the roles, which can cause some decision making like this to become shaky. Remember, in my scenario, the passion and love for each was equal. That is not often the case. The biases for these things can be slightly different to vastly different, which also enters into the equation. We are also doing these things at the speed of thought, which is pretty rapid. Often, we take action or make decisions without thinking it through — we act, as is often described, on instinct. We satisfy our hunger and passion in various ways, but it is always based on the value we place on the roles we are playing. Some performers love the job role they are performing, so their value level for that role is high and judgment is low. Others hate their job role; therefore, judgment is high and value for that role is low.
Think about your roles. You could be playing the role of husband/wife/spouse and father/mother/parent and son/daughter/brother/sister, or you could be a friend. You could be anywhere from a best friend to a casual friend. You could be playing a role in a career and job. You could be performing as a peer/colleague/teammate and/or as a supervisor/leader/boss. Also, consider the value (love) you place on each role and/or the judgment you have for it (disdain/hate). We have masks and behaviors we adapt and modify for each role as well. If those get stretched too far, or we don’t process events happening around us properly, or if we don’t get enough water or good food, this can all lead to stress and fatigue.
I use very sensitive tools to help evaluate and discover clarity in all these roles and situations. This is one of the most powerful ways we help individuals get to the elite performance level.
Here are some other questions that may be helpful to consider:
How do social surroundings affect the role you are playing?
What roles do personal power and control play in each role you have to conduct in your life and the lives of others?
What are some of the roles you play in your life and what behaviors are present in each role?
Do you take time to “shift gears” between each role and adjust your mindset and mood before entering into the next role and associated tasks?
How much time do you think you should take to make an adaptation?
Tony Richards is an Organizational and Executive Development expert and CEO of Clear Vision Development Group, a leadership and strategy firm in Columbia. He is one of INC Magazine’s Top 100 leadership speakers and thinkers. His firm’s website is www.clearvisiondevelopment.com. Follow Tony on Twitter @tonyrichards4.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Having role clarity for elite level performance