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.
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.
- Roles transform the way you see yourself.
- Roles inform behavior. They tell you how to behave when you feel uncertain. Clarity enables action; uncertainty hinders and prevents it.
- 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.
- Roles lift you out of your fears.
- Roles present new ways of relating to the world.
- Roles allow others to see you in a new light.
- Roles explain expectations.
- Roles provide place. You won’t step out if it means you don’t fit in.
- Roles enable ownership. The role you play is yours.
- 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: