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Preview: Comments on: Leading is Not Acting: What Roles Do You Play?

Comments on: Leading is Not Acting: What Roles Do You Play?

Last Build Date: Sun, 07 Jan 2018 18:09:25 +0000


By: Unfolding Leadership » The Cost of the Script

Sat, 24 Feb 2007 21:25:17 +0000

[...] Leading is Not Acting: What Roles Do You Play? [...]

By: Joe McCarthy

Wed, 31 Jan 2007 23:30:36 +0000

Having recently read (and blogged about) "Living Without A Goal", I'm thinking thinking that perhaps there is some applicability here ... "living without a role" ... or perhaps "living without a Role". I get the sense that you understand Ogilvy's perspective better than I do (at least with respect to sublimation). In any case, your distinction between consciously and unconsciously playing a role is very helpful (thanks). Between your original post and followup comment, you may have provided a tipping point for a blog post that's been fermenting inside for many months...

By: Dan

Wed, 31 Jan 2007 17:17:55 +0000

Joe: Thank you! I'll take the comments/questions in reverse order. 1) Yes, I could sing that song! Another time, my friend. Thanks for the suggestion. 2) Telling the stories, especially in a workshop setting, is a great exercise. Hearing the stories can be an almost dreamlike experience, and they can be filled with all kinds of symbolic stuff touching on (happy or painful) past experiences and untapped potentials. We all can help each other with the interpretations and connections. The stories are "mirrors of the soul" and there is much to learn in community from their telling. 3) You make a good point that playing out the roles consciously can lead to a kind of worldly effectiveness in that role. (We are good at what we prefer and we prefer what we are good at). But what's also important is seeing the limits. Ultiimately, roles are reductions of Self, so that's where the limits can inadvertently hinder us -- even trap us -- especially when the role has obvious social value (like being a good connector to others). It's kind of the old saying about "once you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." If you are good with the hammer that's great, but there are many situations that don't call for a hammer, are even really inappropriate. I mentioned in my post on The Journey of Unlearning, that I began to use my role as "ferryman" to interpret my relationships with significant others -- not a good thing. Police officers sometimes are affected by something called, "the John Wayne syndrome," which means that the person is a cop 24/7, even in their personal lives, in turn potentially damaging close relationships. It's clear we learn the roles because at some point in our lives they have helped us cope with reality -- they give us a way of being and a way of contributing. And just so, beyond the role can lie unresolved conflicts and old wounds still waiting for attention. When I finally got to the moment of saying, "I don't want to be this role anymore!" I could feel the depth of those things that I had partitioned away in myself. And I had to ask the question, "If I'm not the ferryman, then who am I?" A wonderful moment. We don't lose the skills we have learned, we lose the unconsciousness of a role "I have to play," because -- without thinking -- it seems to be the best one or the only one I've got.

By: Joe McCarthy

Wed, 31 Jan 2007 16:24:01 +0000

Wow, lots of gems here. I have a few questions, though. You say "Leading is unlearning the roles that we can’t stop ourselves from playing." I actually find that the more I can embrace the roles I can't stop myself from playing -- and thus, be[come] more of who I am -- at work or at play (not that I want to make too great a distinction there), the more effective I can be. Whenever I try to play roles that are not aligned with the real me, I am not very effective (or happy). Perhaps I'm misinterpreting you... I'm also curious about the internal vs. external aspects of the stories we make up about ourselves. Looking within for those stories is important, but sometimes in telling those stories (e.g., through blogging), we open ourselves to the wisdom of others, who can sometimes see more than we can, or are willing to, see. I imagine that when you start offering the proposed workshop, the actual telling of stories by participants will be a crucial component of the work being done. Finally (for now), I was disappointed that you read, rather than sang, your song in the audio accompaniment for this post. Now that you've put out yet another fine book, I look forward to a future stage / dimension of storytelling when you will start expressing the musical part of your self -- or expressing your self musically -- more publicly. :-) Joe.