And we dance, To a whispered voice;
Overheard by the soul, Undertook by the heart;
And you may know it, If you may know it
Neil Diamond, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Roles help us find ourselves
I’ve played many roles in my life: physician, professor, a college dean, a college president, a window washer, a retail store manager, consultant, and a guy who cleaned eyeglasses and hawked some anti-fog stuff for eyeglasses…yes, many roles and obviously not in that order.
You probably have played several, too. There is nothing wrong with playing these roles. But like we do in perfecting our golf swing or crafting the perfect cup of coffee, hopefully…eventually…we find a sweet spot. We find that one type of role within which we could stay in character for the rest of our lives.
Roles help reveal what comes easily to us. On a deeper level, we call these traits, talents, and strengths. Over time we experiment with different roles to determine our interests. I see roles as hugely important because the results of these experiences ultimately inform us about our deepest work.
The rest of this post is somewhat autobiographical. It discusses various phases in my life and the roles I played. It talks about the fractured process of discovering my strengths, talents, and ultimately, my deepest work and concludes with how you can avoid a similarly painful 40-year search for your deepest work. [Read more…]