Photo by Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn on Unsplash
Earlier this week, I was speaking with an incredibly talented woman who’s evaluating a new business opportunity.
She runs her own real estate development business and someone wants to buy her firm. The potential acquirer said they want her as a co-thought leader to help scale the business.
Concerned it’s not a marriage of equals.
The other business is much larger, and she feared she’d lose her autonomy and would feel like she had a “jobby-job” with a boss again.
As she explored the opportunity, she realized a profound truth.
She likes being #2.
“Vanessa,” she told me; “I really like collaborating. I’m a really good #2, and I think I actually prefer that role. I’ve got good operational and strategic skills, I enjoy using my network and resources, I love problem-solving. I’m not the one with the big vision, I don’t need to be out front to feed my ego. I’m the reliable person who gets things done. I enjoy being #2.”
Our culture tells us it’s better to be #1.
We’ve been taught that we should all be #1. All the time. At everything.
First off, that’s literally impossible. We can’t all be #1 at everything.
Second off, we aren’t all meant to be #1. If you’re really honest with yourself, you may not actually want to be #1 at that particular thing.
Also, the labeling of “#1” and “#2” implies an inherent ranking system that’s inaccurate.
One of these roles is not more valuable than the other
I suggested this woman reframe the roles and give them new names instead of #1 and #2.
Then, she can write her ideal job description. What are all the aspects of her work that she really loves? That she would not want to give to anyone else? And what are the aspects of her work that she’d gladly pass off to someone else?
From an early age, we all take on roles.
Good girl, hard-working student, rebel, comedian, supportive friend, daughter, sister, competent professional, lawyer, doctor, engineer, mother, wife, homemaker.
Maybe you’ve taken on a role you no longer want. You’re tired of always being the “reliable” one or the “funny” one.
Maybe you’ve been striving for a role that’s not who you really are.
Or maybe you do want a role, but you’re ready to write your own job description for that role rather than defaulting to the prescribed definition.
For example, I have so much baggage attached to the roles of “mother” and “homemaker.”
We’re talking international flight, staying for six months abroad amount of baggage.
Imagine the amount of baggage Kim Kardashian takes to Paris…then triple it. I would be way over the allotted 32 kg of baggage.
There are a lot of outdated assumptions about what the roles of “mother” and “homemaker” look like that don’t reflect my uniqueness, personal situation or individual desires as a mother and homemaker.
Here’s the cool thing – you have the power to rewrite your role, or fire yourself from a given role to pursue another.
For me, it’s time to rewrite what the roles of “mother” and “homemaker” look like.
What role are you chasing because you should?
I used to believe that I should be very successful in business.
When I worked in investment banking and private equity, I was quite successful in the traditional sense. When I became an entrepreneur, a big part of me thought I should focus on building a multi-million dollar business.
While this is still a goal of mine, it’s no longer my primary objective.
A few years ago, Oprah came out with these lists. There was a list for the most prominent entrepreneurs. And there was a list for the most prominent spiritual teachers.
Which list do you truly want to be on?
As I was looking at these two different lists, I realized something.
The teachers I most admired and revered, the mentors who had the biggest impact on my life, were all on the “Spiritual Teacher” list. While I was inspired by the entrepreneurs, I didn’t actually want to be them with the same heart longing and burning desire I felt when looking at the list of spiritual teachers.
The truth is, I was trying to be #1 at being an entrepreneur when my heart wanted me to play in a completely different category.
Sometimes, you don’t want to be #1. You want to be you.
So today I ask you, in what way are you playing a role that you may have outgrown? Or, how are you denying the role you secretly want to be playing?
Are you trying to be #1 at something rather than trying to be you?
The funny thing is, when you allow yourself to just be you, you will be #1 at something…you just don’t know what that will be (yet!).
For this woman, her truth is that she wants to be #1 at being #2 in a company. That’s where she has the most fun and plays to her strengths. And that’s just right for her.
We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know. What roles do you think you should have or succeed at? Is that truly who you are?
Are there any roles you’ve been defining in a way that’s too limiting? How do you want to rewrite your roles? Tell us what you think below!
May you create work and a life you love,
P.S. Don’t forget, I’m leading a (FREE) Live Masterclass on Values + Vision for 2019 next week!
You’ll be learning a simple process to clarify your vision and set inspiring goals for 2019.
Can’t make it? We’ll send you a recording after the class – but you must register to get the recording.