Our many roles and how they affect our decision-making

Who am I? Good one, right? Let’s narrow it down a bit. Which role am I playing as I am making that decision? We all wear multiple hats, and sometimes we are not conscious who we are, or “which one of me” I should be in the moment I decide. Most of the time it is not that simple anyway.

Am I making this decision as an immigrant, a local, an academic, an auntie, a LGBT person, a taxpayer, a neighbour, a department head, a person on a zero hours contract, a parent, a tech guy, a person of faith, a lover, a Manchester City fan, an XYZ investor, a member of a particular political party, an XYZ survivor etc etc. – all these examples of different roles people play or ways they think of themselves, and one can be most of these things at the same time.

For some decisions, it doesn’t matter. For some it does – and when it does, it is usually very crucial to our identity at that time. And sometimes our many different role identities can be in conflict, they can pull in different directions for a particular decision. Or one might be strong that is called forth in another area of our lives but is not really meant to be that loud where you are right now.

All of that is perfectly normal by the way. We are multidimensional beings, and that is great. And the more conscious we are what is going on inside of us, the better we can come to decisions that align with our many roles we play, and what truly matters. Particularly during times of change this can be a helpful practice to develop.

Often the change you are looking to make might be to rebalance some of these roles, so it’s a good idea to get to know them better as you are negotiating that shift. Ask yourself: Which roles am I playing right now? What does that decision touch? What gets triggered? Any surprising “guest appearances” popping up? Try to name them. Then write down what is important for that role. (When I do this, I literally either sit on different chairs for each role, or move around, stand in a different place etc etc) You are likely going to find that some core values, core criteria are the same across roles. Others might vary. For example your parent role might request a bigger “safety margin” than your adventure traveler role, who might advocate for anything that relieves boredom.

When looking at this for decision making, for the moment ignore what is in alignment or lukewarm. Zoom in on the extremes as relevant for your decision. This points to elements or key criteria you need to be mindful of, these need to somehow feature in your decision making. Look closely. Also, as you are working on bigger changes, ask yourself if you are looking at this from your past (known) or from your desired future (unknown).

There are probably lots of solutions and options out there that do have a bit of safety margin AND can have excitement or something new, to stick with the above example. What would this have to look like to have some of both?  Get creative (and possibly rope in people that embody these extremes for additional input where this is an option).

This makes it clearer which criteria need to be on the table, and allows you to take decisions that are a bit more balanced and that reflect the entirety of your big, beautiful and multifaceted life.

How do you ensure balance in your decisions? Please share.

Want to go deeper?
Check out the values worksheet here.
Or go deeper and get the book.
Or ping me about how coaching might help. 

YES you may. What are you waiting for?

Should I, should I not… sometimes we balance on the edge of the fence, and we sway back and forth, and then we don’t make a move. And nothing happens.

What are you waiting for? Do you need permission? Who do you need permission from?

We sometimes want the assurance of somebody to tell us things are going to be fine. That we will get there. That we are doing the right thing. A parental omniscient figure with wisdom that is ahead of our own.

As we grow older and more experienced, that person gets rarer and rarer to find (here is a secret: most other so-called adults are also winging it to some degree or another). At some point, this role of the one giving permission is one we have to start adopting ourselves. As the owners of our own lives, we can give ourselves permission. To dream big, to dream at all, to plan and to do. To possibly fail and to try again because the dream is still there. Even if it is a small experiment that brings reality and dream closer together. You may. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is all there is and things won’t implement themselves.

(I am not advocating risky behavior or to breaking rules, procedures and things like that. Personal responsibility applies (that is the adult bit…) I am gently inviting you to challenge an assumption you might have that might hold you back from taking steps to make changes in your life. Coaching can also help with that.)

On contribution

You have some sense of your values, who you are and what you would like to contribute to the greater whole (that is great by the way, not everyone does). Or you don’t quite yet (give a shout, I help with things like that).

The next step is not trivial: What am I going to do with that? What does that mean in practice? How and where can I make a difference?

“I am helping X to get Y by using Z”. That is a good start to make things understandable for everyone not living in your own head. The more granular you are able to get, the easier it will make your search.What are these X, Y, Z? Where else are they relevant? Who else could benefit from this?

Brainstorm, and involve people who know you well. Involve well-connected near-strangers. If nobody is around, pick a magazine you would normally never read and mentally figure out what “your craft”, your business superhero power would look like for a company or organization like this or that, or for that sector mentioned, or for famous person A or B and the field they are in.

Also, watch what makes you angry. That is a fantastic guide to what you truly care about and where you are ready to storm into battle to defend it. Anger is often triggered when something you deeply care about gets violated. What is that thing that you are looking to protect? How can you apply that out there?

See if that sparks anything. Keep notes and over time, watch what sort of patterns emerge. You might already be in the right place where you are (and that is a good thing). Or we have an urge to try something different, to maybe find another outlet elsewhere where we feel we might be able to do more. Then a journey of exploration starts. Volunteering can be a good entryway to test the waters. Networking and talking to people in the field you are looking to enter.

And don’t forget: No matter how big your aspirations and purpose: You won’t have to do it alone. In fact, you most likely wouldn’t be able to. There’s 7 billion of us, that is a pretty good team size for a world changing assignment, and there are roles for everyone.

What is yours?

Check out the values worksheet here.
go deeper and get the book.
ping me about how coaching might help. 

(2021 small edit as a section featured long flights and other travel which seems a bit outdated…)

Values: Show me the money

First of all, nothing wrong if money comes up in a values conversation. You might, of course, call it “affluence” or “prosperity” or something slightly more refined-sounding, that’s OK). Take it a step further. What does it stand for, for you?

Money is an interesting one, I am always excited when that comes up in a coaching conversation. Why is that:

  • Money in our society is often a shortcut to represent success (but is it really?) So there is a lot to unpack there
  • Money can be a bit of a taboo, which means if people trust you enough to talk about it, you get to talk about stuff that really matters
  • Money is usually not a thing in and of itself. It usually represents something deeper, and what that is is very individual (again, makes for really good substantial conversations about things people actually care about).

Some of the things money can represent:

For person A, it might be security. Comfort. Space. No middle seat on the plane. Better healthcare. A nice, safe place to live – no matter what goes on in the world.

For person B, it might be love and connection with other humans (there, I’ve said it). Being able to visit people you care about on a short notice no matter how far away they live. Setting up your children for a good start in life. Being able to help a relative, a sister, a friend in a much better way. More ways to contribute.

For person C, it might be quality and craftsmanship. The bespoke suit, the shoes. Hand-stitched. The touch. Archaic-seeming traditions of craftsmanship handed down over centuries. The respect and appreciation this commands and the ability to support that.

For person D, it might be freedom. Saying no. Doing your own thing in your way, at your own pace. Leave that job. Leave that relationship. Start afresh. Making art. Travel. Learning Italian in Italy. Learning Salsa in Cuba. Surf shop sunsets.

For person E, it might be a way to make big things happen that they care about. Start that business. See if that idea has legs. Supporting that organization, that group of people. Take something good and expand it. Making big dreams come true.

So, if money ranks high on your list of values:
1) Embrace it — AND then…
2) …ask yourself, what it means for you and your life. What does it give you, what side of you does it allow to flourish. You might also find you don’t need money to allow these sides of you to flourish more.

What does money represent for you? 


(this blog was slightly updated in spring 2021)

Want to explore your values more? Let’s chat. Or get the book.

The lighthouse in the fog – on orientation

Let’s face it, life can be pretty complex to navigate, and the pace can be relentless. And that lighthouse you were relying on last time for navigation is now firmly hidden behind a big fat layer of fog. It’s still there but you are at the moment not able to see it. And the fog won’t budge just because you happen to need a bit of navigation help right now.

Where do you get your guidance from? From the outside? From the inside? Both? Which one is your default? For me, it is typically somewhat of a mix. Can’t do it without feedback from the outside and context information, and wouldn’t want to live with decisions that are not connected to my internal satnav (purpose, values etc).  How foggy is it where you are right now? Can you afford to wait until it clears before you make a move? How close are you to your “internal satnav”? What does it look like for you?

One way that helps me to connect both is slowing down (not a bad idea during fog anyway…). If your preferred way of orienting yourself doesn’t work for the moment, what other ways do you have available? Share examples! 

 lighthouse fog 3 closeup

Want to go deeper?

Check out the values worksheet here.
Or go deeper and get the book.
Or ping me about how coaching might help.