Role Play: Is Your Work Persona Holding Back Your Career?
Intention is the home in which you can live purposefully, daily…
Showing up to work with the right intention is the only real way to the truth of self-leadership – to know yourself, trust yourself, and be yourself. It is the only way to drive your career.
We are all actors on the stage of life. In 2003 when I decided to become a jobbing actor, I started living intentionally. Up until then my life was a constant stream of directionless nothingness.
When you’re an actor, people presume you’re not being yourself because you’re playing a part, but that was when I started living my truth. There’s irony in that I had to be on stage playing a part in order to know myself. It was such a turning point.
I act every day. You do too. Acting is the reality of doing. And doing leads to being. For if you do intentionally, i.e. with purpose, you are being. Not doing for the sake of it.
In my experience, actors play a variety of roles, so do we as leaders play many roles.
How many roles do you play each day of your life? HR professional, parent, spouse, sister, brother, accountant (or some other profession), citizen. Do you behave differently in each role? Yes, you do. Are you therefore not being real? You are intentionally being these roles. Beneath all these roles is the same person: you. The same is said for the actor.
Life is about doing. Not trying to do, just doing. And failing. And doing. And failing and doing. Which eventually leads to living intentionally. Even Yoda said it. “Try not, do.” Doing leads to being when you believe. Doing and believing are intertwined and are the primary things necessary for succeeding.
How do I intentionally choosing the right roles to play at work?
Crucial to knowing which version of self to play is being able to observe yourself. Begin to cultivate an awareness of self. I have found over the years the simplest, and most effective tool for this is feed-forward. After every interaction, meeting, conversation and decision you make, ask yourself: what did I do well there and should do more of next time? What could I do to improve next time? What am I grateful for in myself?
Note: there is no judgement or self-criticism. Just pure observation.
We often walk around without intention…
In South Africa, sawubona is the Zulu word for hello. There’s a beautiful and powerful intention behind the word because sawubona literally translated means I see you, and by seeing you, I bring you into being.
So beautiful. Imagine being greeted like that. Imagine living like that. Leading others like that. But what does it take to truly see ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions, and our stories, all of which help us to thrive in an increasingly complex and fraught world?
The dictionary defines intent as intention or purpose. The adjective is defined as determined to do (something). A synonym for intent is attitude. And I define attitude as a settled way of thinking and feeling. I see intent meaning on purpose, planned, conceived. It’s not accidental. It’s not I’ll just see. No, it’s more like I will. Like sawubona. I see you.
Dr Wayne Dryer says, “Our intention creates our reality”
By being purposeful about what we create and accomplish, we create our very reality. The intentions we set today influence the life we live tomorrow. Intent is a clarity of mind: how we think affects how we feel and what we do.
I believe in focusing on what you want to do, be, have, feel, or create and working backwards to set an intention for your meeting, conversation, presentation etc. to align with those desires. Intentions to me are a way of being that create a desired present and future. It is the way to live the personas you know you need to drive your career.
An important thing to note – intent is not a goal. You’re not intending to lose weight. However, you might intend to be healthy and to make healthy choices. Your intent must be actions (to be productive), feelings (to feel love), and thoughts (to be optimistic).
It is how you want to be. Your intent must guide your interactions with other people. Your intent affects how you show up. The question to ask yourself is how do I want to show up?
Like the actor, you must have an intent for each interaction. Every scene of your life. And in each interaction, you are not going to be the same. Notice which intentions work well and which need not be used.
When you are clear about your intention and you observe yourself – using feed-forward – you step into the field of pure potentiality. You drive your choices, your career. You know yourself, trust yourself, and be yourself – the truth of self-leadership.
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