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6 min read

To Play or Not to Play A Role

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One of Shakespeare’s most infamous lines is, “All the world’s a stage.”   Many may read his flair for drama here, but I believe he was describing the reality that, whether we know it or not, life is about playing roles.  As such, life truly is our stage.

Conversely, the modern-day ‘self-help’ trend encourages us to live as our most authentic selves, directing us to show the same version of ourselves in each area of our lives.

So, how does one reconcile these two points?  Which is it – am I playing a role each day as though I am on a stage, or should I place my focus on being the most authentic version of myself regardless of the setting?

“Playing a Role”

In order to truly live our cause and purpose, I believe we must engage a combination of both truths.  I am not sure we will ever see the full self in all its glory on this side of eternity, but this does not mean we can’t play each of our current roles to the very best of our ability.  This looks like striving each day to do your best work, and giving your best performance possible while realizing that you have many roles to play.

Many years ago, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey illustrated this point about roles beautifully.  He said that when he was coming home from work, he would remind himself that he was about to do his most important job of the day.  Often, our varying roles can take on a hierarchy of their own, and we must intentionally remind ourselves of their individual importance.

“And One Man in His Time Plays Many Parts”

Based on this, I developed a ritual as I am driving home.  When I hit a certain point in my commute, I mentally tell myself that I am about to play one of my most important roles and do some of the most important work of my day.

My role as CEO of TCN is very different from my role at home, both in terms of how I play the role and what it requires.  I also have a role as a coach to many of the organizations’ partners, which also looks different.  In addition, I have a role as a teacher when I am teaching our leadership courses.

As you consider the concept of roles, you’ll likely see that you also have various roles to play.  While some of our competencies enable us to perform those various roles similarly, it doesn’t change the fact that there are different roles.

“Role Descriptions”

What I’ve found helpful to navigate this challenge of life and to ensure that I deliver an amazing performance day-in and day-out is to have role descriptions.

Role descriptions paint the picture of what our performance should look like.  There are two things I learned from a valued mentor that are essential elements for a quality role description.  The picture of a role should be, ultimately, how a virtuoso would play that role – in other words, how it would look like as an Academy Award-winning performance.  Role descriptions are, in some respects, a work of art and an expression of the best possible version of yourself that you can become.  The second component of the role description is they should be reflective of virtuosity regardless of the adversity or challenges that may come. After all, the most memorable performances are by characters who have overcome much and still delivered amazing performances.

As an example, here is an excerpt of my role description of CEO of TCN:

Your role is to be the conductor of the orchestra for all TCN’s activities.  Your role is to build a team to provide subject matter specialist coaching services and later shared services for hospice operations and palliative care operations.  Your role is to ensure TCN is the industry leader in discovering and disseminating best practices as well as enabling our partners to operationally implement them.

“Last Scene of All”

My challenge to you is to write a role description for each role in your own life, both professional and personal.  These descriptions should encompass the ultimate ideal for the role.  While you may fall short many days, your role description still calls you forward to live your cause and purpose.  Your role description also starts to paint a picture of a vision for your life.  Join us next time for the last installment in this series as we talk about Vision, which paves a pathway for you to fulfill your roles.  You see they are intertwined, and they all work together to help you live your cause and purpose.



Chris Comeaux, President / CEO of Teleios Collaborative Network




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An organizational model that allows nonprofit hospices (Members) to leverage best practices, achieve economies of scale and collaborate
in ways that better prepare each agency to participate in emerging alternative payment models and advance
their charitable missions.