Identity versus Role

Dear Jack,

I’ve recently begun meeting with a coach/mentor to help me sustain more success, both professionally and personally.  My original goal was to help me find balance between the two, and it’s spilled into so much more.  One specific concept that has emerged is some information from Sandler Sales Institute, the difference between our “Identity” and our “Roles.”

This idea uses the analogy of a person being left on a deserted island, stripped of all of his roles (financial planner, husband, father, church leader, etc.).  What then is his identity now that his functioning “roles” are taken from him?  For a lot of people, they’re left with nothing if all they have that defines them is their job title or family relationship.  For Sandler, this idea is used to identify an individual’s personal “identity,” what they are without having the roles defining them.  As a Christian, my identity is Christ.

Yes, I may play the role, wear the hat, perform duties as a financial planner, husband, father, church leader, or whatever else happens to be taking place at the current moment, but that’s not who I am.  Yes, I’m a financial planner, but that’s not it.  Yes, I’m a husband, but that’s not it.  The beauty of our identity is that it surfaces in each role that we play.  I’m a Christian who happens to be a financial planner, and a husband, and a father, and a church leader.  I’m not necessarily a financial planner who happens to be a husband.  Or a father who happens to be a church leader.  Roles are secondary.

There is tremendous freedom to fail (and to succeed) in this understanding.  Use your own current roles to put yourself in these examples.  I hope and pray you find the same freedom that I have.  Till next time, Jack.



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