Defining Your Roles

There are a few exercises I believe everyone should do in life to discover their calling and create a compass to guide their life. They are:

  1. Discover and declare Your Why
  2. Define your Core Values
  3. Create your Mission Statement
  4. Create your Vision for your future and
  5. Create your Life Roles

I have done each of these for my personal life, my family, and my vocation and I encourage you to do the same. These take time and intentionality to complete these, but I believe it will pay you huge dividends and allow you to live a fulfilling live you were called to live.

The key thing with all these is you are unique. God made you different than everyone else, so you need to discover what these are to you. However, when you are learning about these from others you might end up putting yourself in a box based on other people’s versions of these. To help you think outside the box I want to share my 3 roles, how I came to them and how it took outside the box thinking to get to them.

What are “Life Roles”?

First let us start with the concept of life roles. This concept was taught to me by a great mentor, consultant and friend of mine, Eric Guy, the Chief Victory Officer at Center for Victory. Eric told me about how he was not living a fulfilling life and it was because he was not being true to himself. After a turning point in his life he realized he can only do three things well. Like many other leaders in the course of history, he discovered when he focused on more than three things, he didn’t accomplish what he was attempting to. He realized he needed to do three things very well and do them in order. His roles, in order, are

  1. Husband
  2. Father
  3. Friend

When he focuses on these in this order it allows him to be a great leader and run a great business. When they are not in order then his business is affected. This concept was tested early for him when he had to turn down a lucrative speaking engagement because it would take too much time away from family. Since he stuck to his roles and what he does well, he ended up agreeing to that gig when they paid to have his family attend with him. Instead of being away from his family he was able to bring them along and create memories.  

The idea behind life roles is to help you define what you are good at, prioritize your time, focus your time and efforts, and help you to make decisions. They give you clear guardrails when making decisions and the framework to say no to the things that are not a priority. When you define them and follow them you are not only start to live the life you were called to, but you start to excel in other areas as side effect.

I would challenge you to only define 3. This can be very hard, but pruning is necessary to fruitful growth.

My three roles

I shared Eric’s but to continue to help you I will define my three roles in order:

  1. Leader
  2. Husband
  3. Father

How I Defined my three roles (the process)

These were not easy to come up with. The way I came up with mine was over the series of weeks. I started by seeking God’s wisdom and discernment and then just journaling all the roles that come to mind when I look at my day to day routines. I wrote down any and all things that came to me. Some of them were not practical and part of what needs pruned in my life such as board member, student, dishwasher. Some were tougher than others to prune like friend, mentor, and amateur marathoner. I encourage you to keep writing. It’s like throwing spaghetti against a wall. Some will stick and some wont, but you will not know until you throw it. This is the same process I have used for defining my mission, core values and why.  After several days of coming up with roles I then read through them and started to cross out ones that would not make my top three or help in my mission and vision. This is easy at first but eventually you end up with a hypothetical March Madness style bracket trying to pare back to just three. At this point, do not worry about the order, just get it to three. Visualize yourself in these roles and how it makes you feel and what the effects are. Your roles should be what you excel at and that no one else can do for you. Continue this process even if it takes several days. To clearly define these, it should be a well thought out and slow process. Once you get to just three spend a few days seeking God’s discernment and journaling about them until you agree they are right. As you do this, visualize yourself excelling at these roles and tough decisions you would have to make to stay true to these like Eric had in the earlier story. Once you are at peace with your three, do a similar process with visualization, prayer, and journaling until you find the order that fits best. Before you are done, share these with others to form more clarity that they are true to you.

So, my process to define your roles is:

  1. Seek God for discernment.
  2. Journal any role that comes to mind.
  3. Narrow down your list to three.
  4. Seek advice and spend time thinking about them.
  5. Visualize yourself in these roles and the negative and positive outcomes.
  6. Think about how they help achieve your mission and vision.
  7. Order them by priority level.

Why it was outside the box thinking to get to them.

This process was not easy. This did not come to me as fast as Core Values, Mission, Vision and my why. The reason I believe is because my roles are upside down to everything I have been taught. Almost every leadership and self-help book, or podcasts or speeches say to be a good husband first then father second and everything else third. I have heard many successful people talk about going back and doing it over again they would value things differently and in that order. They will say when you die nobody remembers you as a businessperson or leader, they will remember you as a husband, father, or a friend. Yet my dad was a great dad and most of what I remember him for is not for being a dad, but a leader. For the life he lived and the lives he empowered. He did not neglect his role as a father, but he knew to put his oxygen mask on first before he put mine on, and his mask was empowering others as a servant leader. It’s upside down, but so is the Gospel. However, to be true to myself and be a good father I must first be a good husband and to do that I must find fulfillment. Before you think my priorities are out of alignment, think about this, if making your spouse the first priority was true then how could anyone be a leader and a father? You have to “cheat” on your family time at some point. In my opinion, it’s not about being there all the time; it’s about being there when it counts and it’s about not letting them down. It’s about making them a priority and not neglecting them. When I try to be a good husband or father first, I neglect leadership and lose fulfillment. When I do so, my time with my family is hollow. I am filled with resentment and they do not enjoy being around me. My dad was the same way. However, when I am leading others well and empowering them, I find fulfillment and naturally spend more time with my family and more quality time. Keep in mind my family roles are still number 2 and 3 and above many other roles such as friend. I will not sacrifice my role as a husband or father just to recognize how to be good at them. When I shared these roles at first with my wife, as you can imagine, she was not on board. However, I explained how I came to them and why they were in that order, she agreed.  When you create your roles do not let social norms or group thoughts dictate your roles. Be true to the person God called you to be.

How to use your roles

If you create your roles, they are useless if you do not use them. You would not buy guardrails for a road and then not install them. The best way to use the roles as guardrails in your life to protect your from going off the road is to:

  1. Share them with others so they can hold you accountable.
  2. Review them daily in the morning to remind yourself and keep you focused.
  3. Evaluate yourself periodically on how you are doing in the roles.
  4. Ask others to evaluate yourself in your roles.

It’s important to course correct frequently or you will not end up at the destination you are seeking.

I would love to hear your three roles and how you came up with them. You can leave comments on my LinkedIn or email me. If you found this helpful, please multiply by sharing it with another leader!

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