The 10 Liberating Powers of Playing a Role

Jim McCann, came into the world a shy, Irish kid, in New York City. He wasn’t always a conversationalist.

Jim overcame shyness by becoming a salesperson in a clothing store and, later, a bartender. His story helped me see the transformational power of taking on roles.

play a new role

Famous method actors become the characters they play. Daniel Day-Lewis, for example, spent eight weeks at a clinic for cerebral palsy patients before playing a disabled artist in, “My Left Foot.”

Hear Jim talk about taking on roles (1:54): 

The 10 powers of playing a role:

Playing a role is a way to become someone you want to be, but aren’t, yet. Jim took on a socially defined role when he became a bartender. He played a part.

Play a new role. Create a new future.

  1. Roles transform the way you see yourself.
  2. Roles inform behavior. They tell you how to behave when you feel uncertain. Clarity enables action; uncertainty hinders and prevents it.
  3. Roles give permission. Doorman have permission to open doors. When the people around you understand the role you play, you have permission to fulfill that role.
  4. Roles lift you out of your fears.
  5. Roles present new ways of relating to the world.
  6. Roles allow others to see you in a new light.
  7. Roles explain expectations.
  8. Roles provide place. You won’t step out if it means you don’t fit in.
  9. Roles enable ownership. The role you play is yours.
  10. Roles reveal responsibilities.

Bonus: Fulfilled roles give fulfillment.

Give yourself a role:

How would you be different if you took the role of:

  • Chief Compassion Officer.
  • Chief Expediter.
  • Chief Serving Officer.
  • Chief Conversation Igniter.

Become the leader you hope to be by playing a new role.

More: Jack Welch Grabbed Jim McCann by the Collar

How has playing a role changed you?

How might leaders help others play new roles?

Jim McCann’s new book:

Jim McCann - Talk is NOT Cheap