July 18, 2019

36. The Roles That Define You

A man’s life is defined by all the different formal and informal roles that we take on every single day.

Husband, father, partner, work colleague, even a certain role you play with your mates. In the Renaissance Man context, they always spoke about the ability to be the right kind of Universal Man in all the different contexts or different teams or situations you’re in.

Regardless of those different roles that we’re all called to play, there’s a quality of the man that transfers across – that transcends. All these different types of roles – we shift from one role to the next as we go through life and as we do so we grow, we grow as our roles change.

But, how do you get the right set of roles? Because in life, you want to identify the set of roles that best executes your life vision. 


So we want to focus on two questions. Are you in the right set of roles? And for ones you are in, are you doing them right? 

Because if you’re not, there’s going to be, potentially, a lot of conflict, a lot of heartache, a lot of stress. But if you do them right, life can be pretty damn good. 

It is so important to be clear about the roles you are playing. This level of awareness is vital because real damage is done when you are playing a role but are not aware that you are doing so. 

So begin by naming all the roles you are playing. Stop and say, “Okay, the roles I’m performing, formally and in an informal way within my life, are; “I might be father. I’m friend. I’m an executive officer at work. I’m a football coach.” Five, six or seven roles. Be clear what they are. This level of awareness is a great stepping point forward for growth.

For each role that you are playing – and so many of us miss this opportunity – it is a great idea to name some of the aspects of the role. 


Write on a piece of paper, What’s the purpose of the role? What are the key tasks and the quality required of each task? 

Let me tell you what we mean by that is. The quality of clarity around role is so important. Maybe your partner says to you, “Hey, Sunday afternoon can you look after the kids?” And you go “No problem.” And then maybe you give your wife the afternoon off, or your partner the afternoon off. The kids, you, just hang around at home, put on a movie and watch a movie together. 

And then you go and get McDonald’s for dinner. She comes in at 7 o’clock and says “I can’t believe you did that! Why didn’t you take them to the park and make them run around and give them a good healthy vegetable dinner?” 

You did the task, but not to the right level of quality. Right? So it’s clear that there’s a bit of a role conflict right there. So, understand the purpose, the task and the quality. 

It is a powerful question to ask yourself, what does success look like in that particular role today? 

How can I do it to the best of my ability? 

If you just define that for each of the roles you’re in, you’ll find you get a few little bonuses.


Imagine a football team, or a cricket team, going onto the field. Everyone’s got a role. Now it’s all good and well to know what your role is, but do you know what all the other roles are, and the game plan? Because sometimes you might know your role really well, but no one else knows theirs. Or no one knows really how it all fits together to make the game plan. 

Again, it can be the way you run your home. It can be the way you run your team at work. It’s really important to understand how everyone’s role is important. That’s a recognition of the importance of everyone’s role, plus how your role fits into that. 

When we’re doing this really well, the role’s supports each other, and you feel energy. So you catch up with a friend and you have an energy. From that catch up with the friend, you can go back home and do some other role, and you’ve got an energy there. Because you’ve done that particular role well, is an energy somewhere else.

Exactly. I catch up with mates maybe we go for a beer after work one day, and it’s really interesting when guys catch up, they just generally talk footy or sport or something, whatever their interest that is, they talk about it all the time. That’s the role you play in that moment. Because it is maybe a bit of an escape for everybody to get away. Not talk work, or not talk about family, just be different. Then you go home, and you’re wife goes “How was it?” “Oh, it was great, had a good beer.” Then she goes “How’s their family?” And you go “No idea.” 


One of the little dangers here is we can think that the role is a perfect thing. But we all know every role has it’s good and it’s bad. There are aspects of it you don’t like, but it’s still part of the role.

I’d like to say every role has a ‘suck’ factor. There just is no role out there that is just perfect. I don’t really love doing toilet training with my boys, I don’t like doing the admin and financing

of my work. There’s just bits and pieces you don’t love. Right? But that’s just part of every role, so don’t look for perfection. 


I think the next important thing is know the points of transition. 

This is where a lot of conflict and angst arises. Maybe you’ve been at work all day. You walk in the door and you’ve still got this potential mindset of maybe I’m very commercial, maybe operational project work, it’s logical and linear and moving on, but then you’re in the house and it’s not all that. It’s chaos. It’s dinner time or bath time and you’re like “Oh my gosh, this is just nuts” and no one listens to you, whereas at work everyone listens to you. 

You haven’t realised you’ve changed roles. There is a totally different power dynamic here. So you get upset because you’ve still got the suit on. 

You’ve got to take that suit off. So know the points of transition, because that’s where issues arise.

I remember a little while ago, I was trying to put my sons to bed and they playing on the bed, jumping up and down and being crazy and throwing the teddy bears across the room. It was late and I was getting angry at them and saying “Get down to bed!” and “Go to sleep!”, and they just weren’t ready. Right? 

But I realised I wasn’t upset at them. I was upset because I wanted to play another role. I wanted to go back and do some work. I was thinking that if they don’t go to bed soon, I’ll run out of energy out there to do that job. It had nothing to do with them.

I remember being at meetings all day and I had a tie on. And I’m walking into a pub to catch up with my mate. As I’m walking in, I take my tie off. It’s a tiny little thing, but kinda me saying “I’m leaving that role, those meetings and work, I’m leaving that behind. I’m in a new role, and it’s not a formal role, it’s an informal role, of just being a mate.

The process of changing your clothes is important. Change out of your power suit. Being around the house clothes, or if you’re gonna go to the gym, put on proper gym clothes, or whatever it is. That also things like taking your technology. So your phone or your computer, go and put it in the office, plug it in, leave it in there, so you can come back and be present, because if it’s in your hand, you’ll keep checking it.

So when you switch off your phone you’re saying, ‘I’m leaving that role’. I’m there just with my partner, with the person you’re actually with.

And then the next morning, when you get up, you maybe put on your jacket or your tie, or whatever, your shirt, just before you leave home, it’s the final thing, it’s game time, so you can go to work in full swing. Right? Make sure you know those transitions and how you’re going to transition from one to the other.

Know that there’s always gonna be a bit mistake at a times. We don’t all actually get it right, but just to be aware. 


Some roles are not all, actually you. You can’t feel a gut feeling, and know this is just not me. 

Exactly, and we use the example of Mitchell Johnson, the Australian cricketer, who was a real wild child in many ways. For years they tried to make him a line or length bowler, and that was a square peg in a round hole. Wasn’t it?

Then all of sudden, the coach said, “No, no. You’re the aggressor, what we need you to do is, essentially, to scare people. And he got more wickets in that last three years of his test career, then he did in probably the first ten. 

Within all that, sometimes we’re asked to play a role for very short time. And it really isn’t what or who we want to be longer term. It can be fine for a period. Perhaps your partner’s very, very sick and for a short period of time, you’ve gotta go into nurse, and you’ve gotta go and do care. It’s not who you’re gonna be longer term. The danger is sometimes you can go into a role which is not you and you can get yourself trapped there, and it just eats away and you get into a “victim” approach, and you’re just not being you.

In those moments when maybe something has occurred more from left field, and you’re asked to do a certain role, you actually have to reset your expectations about your ability to do other roles. And if it’s an energy thing, like perhaps your partner being sick, maybe you need to have some discussions with the other people who are involved and say, “Listen, right now I’m going to be a bit more emotional, a bit more sad or a bit more committed somewhere else”. So reset that expectation so it doesn’t hurt you so much.

On other occasions you’ve just gotta exit stage left.

You might be in a particular role. It worked for a period, and you just realise this is not going to work. This is not you.

So instead or wearing yourself out for a long period of time, ’cause that’s what a poorly fit role does, wears you out. If that’s the case, look to redefine it. Take control of that, and redefine it, and if you can’t, eventually you are going to have to exit.


Two important principles for being a Universal Man is role clarity and the right number of roles. If you take on too many roles, and overall have too many tasks, you just get into overload, and you don’t end up doing any of them well. You just get this poor performance in every single one of them and it’s not good for anyone. Not good for the people you’re associated with, or the team your involved with. You need to add the right set of roles, that support your achieving or executing your vision.

When you let go of one of those roles, which is an extra burden, and it’s not being a part of you, you will experience a lift in your own performance and flow.

There are certain chapters in your life where there should be a set of roles. This might require some very tough decisions.

Sometimes you get in a role that has an amazing title, don’t make the title all about you. Make you, you. That’s a really powerful thing. There’s nothing worse than meeting someone who’s a CEO, or the big head-honcho of something, and they’re all about the title.

Don’t hold the title in too tight a way. You’ve got to be able to be a little bit flexible about it all.

I always use the example of football. Everyone has a number on their back, in the game of footy, and you’ve got a role to play, based on the game plan. Right? But every now and then the opposition drops the ball. You’ve got to pick it up. The closest person must do the job.

So sometimes at work, in particular, or at home where I suppose you’ve got set roles, sometimes things go wrong. Someone just needs to do a job, and don’t just go “Well, that’s not my job, because I’m this person.” Do what the team, or scenario, needs to keep moving and get a result. Now I say it all the time, it frustrates me because someone says “That’s not my job.”

One thing about being the Universal Man is that the actual universal man senses the role that’s needed to be done here. Knows that they can perform within that role, it will enhance them, and not only are they a better person for it, but everyone around them is too.

When you have the right set of roles, and they are good ones for you, that’s when you really feel that zone and that spirit that you’re on top of things, and in flow.

And that’s the feeling of knowing yourself, growing your own self and your brothers walk beside you.

Stay legendary

Pricey and Grego