All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.
– William Shakespeare
How many roles have you played already this week? Boss. Cook. Parent. Spouse. Manager. Friend. Janitor. Child. Clear roles and responsibilities keep business processes and families running smoothly. Yet the paradox is that rigid roles and rules can cause processes to collapse and malfunction under changing conditions. Keeping the roles and responsibilities simple permits flexibility and adaptability when needed.
Understanding and acting out our roles and responsibilities requires a personal commitment to behaving with social intelligence. The phrase “social intelligence” has become “business speak”. I will define it as first having a personal understanding of ones own values and philosophy coupled with empathy and compassion for others along with the ability to communicate effectively and influence others.
In other words, each of us is more than the hats we wear in any given situation, more than the job title, more than a relationship. If we seek to know and act on our core values and philosophy or way of being in the world, we can participate more easily in all of the different roles life offers us. If all the world is a stage and we are the actors, perhaps the key, as the airline flight attendants say, is to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.