You are looking for roles you actually play as a regular and significant part of your life. The younger you are, the less likely it is that you will have had much actual experience playing a particular role in the outside world. In that case, what to look for is the connection, the recognition, the sense of fmiliarity.
BASIC UNIVERSAL ROLES
Child. This is a role we all inhabit. To some degree we all carry our Childhood with us, for better or worse, throughout our lives. The positive side of this role is the eternal child, the person who remains eternally young at heart. They are lighthearted and fun to be around, preserving a charming innocence, a spirit of playfulness, and a vital, energetic youthfulness. On the negative side, some people never fully grow up, remaining irresponsible as a childish adult. Afraid to face the unknowns and unpredictable aspects of life. the Child yearns to be protected and taken care of by others. They may care only about filling their own needs. They may be bratty, need to always be the center of attention, or be unable to form mature relationships. When it comes to career choices, the Child wants someone else to decide for them or just hopes it all works out rather than treating career choice as one of life's most important decisions. When times get tough, nearly everyone has bouts of the Child role; the hope of being rescued from tough choices and dangers is woven deeply into human nature.
Mother.The nurturer, the vital giver of life. The Mother is protective, devoted, caring, and unselfish. Although most women can biologically function as a mother. this role describes people of either sex who embody these characteristics in their everyday life. They may have their own children or passionately look forward to having a family, or this role may show up in many other ways—for example, in a devotion to protecting the environment or the well-being of anything else they care about.
Father. Even beyond the immediate family, some people embody the bold and courageous male patriarch. The Father role initiates, takes charge, and leads through the tough decisions in life. People who embody the spirit of the Father role will find ways to apply this talent in the workplace as the wise manager, on the playing field as the nurturing sports coach, and as a parent to their own children as the ultimate "cool" dad. On the dark side, the Father may also abuse his authority by being overly controlling, dictatorial, or a know-it-all.
Warrior. The Warrior takes a stand and fights for something. The adversary can be anything—other Warriors, an injustice, a disease, a shortcoming of society, a personal weakness, a belief system, an unfulfilled goal. The Warrior is willing to do what it takes to reach the goal, no matter what obstacles arise, no matter how uncomfortable he or she feels. The more evolved Warrior seeks to win without a fight, the objective being the goal rather than the need to go to battle. Men and women drawn to defend their country on the battlefield embody the physical Warrior, willing to put life on the line for a cause. Others manifest the Warrior in fighting for social injustices or on the proverbial battlefield of the competitive business world. On the dark side is the Warrior who can't stop, who loves the battle more than the goal.
Hero. The Hero arises in many forms. The true Hero begins as an ordinary person, called to a mission beyond his or her present capacities. Out of dedication to the goal, the Hero undergoes difficulties and emerges transformed by the experience. Many tales handed down to us from ancient days follow this theme. The character Frodo in The Lord of the Rings is the perfect embodiment of this role in modern literature. The Hero's journey can involve an adventure in the external world or an inner quest for wisdom or personal transformation. The Hero's quest always involves overcoming those very weaknesses or inner demons holding the Hero back. Many of you reading this book with a strong desire to find a career you love are on a Hero's journey: you are working against a prevailing belief that not enjoying work is normal ("If it were fun, they wouldn't call it work").
Comedian. The consummate class clown, prankster, fool, and jokester. The Comedian thrives on making people laugh, cry, or think about things differently. They see the humor and absurdity in everyday life. They make us laugh at ourselves and our foolish ways. Some are court jesters, a role that gives them special permission to reveal the truth that most of us, caught up in trying to be politically (or otherwise) correct, aren't seeing.
Leader/King/Queen. Without much effort, some people carry an air of authority, confidence, clarity, vision, or majesty; they are recognized by others as natural leaders. As if born with royal blood, they have natural authority. While Managers administer projects and work the details, Leaders see the whole forest while maintaining a practical eye on the trees. They are at their best when they know the difference between power and force. A truly powerful Leader is benevolent, using wisdom, persuasion, and the example of their actions. People follow them because they want to. They direct their kingdom, company, organization, family, or team without needing to use force and domination.
Prince/Princess. Deserving, entitled, the Prince/Princess needs to be taken care of. They think of themselves as special, born to be honored and adored. They are vulnerable, seek attention, and usually find others to worship them, dote on them, and generally treat them as royalty. Rarely independent or self-sufficient, they often trap themselves in relationships and situations where they are completely reliant on others and never fully develop their own powers to live independently in the real world.
Money Person.Since the dawn of civilization, some people have had a strong affinity for money—acquiring it, saving it, investing it, understanding the complexities of it, working with it Just because you want a lot of it doesn't mean this role is one of yours. Look instead for a real affinity. This may be one of your natural roles if you spend a lot of time looking for the good deal or reading about investing and enjoy the financial intricacies of business, balancing your checkbook, or doing financial spreadsheets.
PUBLIC OR "SOCIAL FACE" ROLES
Extrovert. Naturally talkative, outgoing, sociable, the Extrovert's world revolves around engaging with people. Most Extroverts have a rich outer world of relationships; they'd rather be on the go and meeting new people than reading a book. Extroversion is not the same as friendliness and, despite social conventions, is not any more "normal" than introversion. Stronger Extroverts do their best work with people, in careers such as salesperson, manager, teacher, broadcast journalist, and the like. Everyone is a combination of both introversion and extroversion; it's a matter of degree.
Group Worker/Team Member.The loyal teammate who works with and through other people contributing their part to the larger, group goal. Whether introverted or extroverted, leader or follower, about 75 percent of the population is team-oriented, preferring to work as part of a company, team, or "tribe." They are happiest being one of a group, in a role where they don't stand out as a unique specialist or expert. Employees, including senior management of service and retail businesses and corporations, government workers, and military personnel, often claim this role.
Marketer.The natural promoter, public relations, and public affairs expert. They enjoy communicating the value of an idea, product, or service to their audience and persuading others to jump on board. They enjoy getting across the benefits and making the sale, which may involve actually selling or convincing others of something.
Networker. These folks continually create and manage relationships with other people who may prove useful in furthering their goals. Skillful Networkers give as much as they get, so that their relationships are characterized by the sharing of resources and support. Some act as a go-between to bring people together; they effortlessly move in and out of different groups, clubs, social cliques, and associations and introduce people to each other.
Bullshooter. Shooting the bull is the ancient role of storyteller. To the Bullshooter, the story is the reality. They don't let the facts get in the way of a good tale. They enjoy holding forth, gaining the rapt attention of others. Some are happy as salespeople; others are inspiring teachers. Before the advent of writing, the Bullshooter was the carrier and keeper of the tribe's history.
Politician. Their most basic attribute is their relentless drive toward being selected/ elected to a position of power and/or influence. At their best, they are statesmen and stateswomen, dedicated to the public good, able to set aside their own survival strategies in favor of forwarding society. Great politicians express a complex combination of several roles, such as the Leader, Marketer, Dealmaker, and Networker. On the dark side, many of them are dedicated to partisan and personal gain and willing to scheme, maneuver, and lie to gain power.
Dealmaker. Part Networker, Politician, and Marketer, they can get the deal done and the contract signed. Some are gifted at making friends, building relationships, and proposing the win-win deal. Others have a talent for getting others to agree to deals that favor only the Dealmaker. They understand what makes people tick and know what it takes to motivate others to make up their minds and sign on the dotted line. They often become salespeople and also excel as marketing executives, politicians, and diplomats.
Introvert. Naturally quiet, ingoing, reserved, talks little but thinks constantly. Introverts have a rich inner life and do their best work in their heads or with their hands, such as writers, craftspeople, accountants, lawyers, researchers, scientists, artists, and so on. Introversion is not shyness or a lack of confidence. Introverts have an inward focus, which is just as normal as extroversion. Everyone is a combination of both introversion and extroversion; it's a matter of degree. Some may try to hide their natural tendency and force themselves into more extroverted careers. Introversion is not a weakness; it's a natural trait that, if not taken into account, can lead to exhaustion on the job.
Hermit. A small percentage of people are happy to live in solitude. Most introverts are not Hermits. The difference is that introverts have a social life. Hermits don't. Rather, they prefer to live and work alone and consider contact with other people a bother.
Free Spirit. Live and let live, try anything twice, the world is a playground to explore. Open-minded, socially liberal, artistic, uninhibited by social conventions and traditions, don't want to be tied down, resist or avoid authority, and avoid the domination of others. Career-wise, they are attracted to professions such as the arts, entertainment, and travel, as well as self-employment. On the negative side, they can have trouble settling on something long enough to develop mastery.
Nature-Wise Person. Pays attention to the natural world; aware of the sights, sounds, smells, and potential dangers of the natural world. An ancient role, one that most of our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived every day. Like the Streetwise Person, keenly aware of their surroundings. (As the Streetwise Person is often clueless in the natural environment, however, so the Nature-Wise Person may be unaware of the complexities and dangers of the city.) Many a Nature-Wise Person becomes a bird-watcher, hunter, or hiker as a hobby. This role calls some people so strongly that they become foresters, land conservationists, geologists, ecologists, marine biologists, and so on.
Seeker. In search of truth and wisdom, the Seeker looks into the unknown, asking, "Who am I?" "What is the truth?" "What is the nature of reality?" Endlessly curious, the Seeker wanders, wonders, and explores. On the dark side, Seekers may wander on an endless, aimless journey to nowhere and avoid finding something for fear that it will end their search. Evolved seekers become finders.
Rule Breaker/Rebel. The outsider and maverick who questions conventions and deviates from the norm. Rebel energy often helps society break out of habits that no longer work. Social activists and critics, scientists, comedians, artists and poets, visionary leaders, and change agents who move the world to see things anew or challenge the status quo have the Rule Breaker in their makeup. Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, is an example of the artistic, comedic Rule Breaker. On the dark side, some Rebels are on a path of destruction, bringing harm to themselves or society as professional criminals, con artists, tricksters, and scammers. This group's white-collar representatives often show up in the news: Politicians and Criminals with MBAs and law degrees, manipulating the public for their own ends.
Risk Taker. The daredevil, willing to do things that most people would consider dangerous, chancy, speculative, or foolhardy. The Risk Taker may take physical risks, like the mountain climber or stunt person, or thrive on beating the odds, like the day trader or the entrepreneur. Much of human history was made by successful Risk Takers. Many of the advances and advantages we most cherish exist only because someone took a big risk and won. On the dark side, some get their kicks by trying to beat the system. At the far end of that spectrum lies the Criminal role.
Some of what is commonly considered antisocial may be just pushing the boundaries of what is known or accepted, and that is the engine that moves humanity forward. The roles in this category are different, however. When playing these roles, people have no intention of making a contribution to society. Their impulse is narrow, in service to the ignoble in humanity or to cause intentional harm.
Sell-out. At one time or another, each of us plays this role. Whether or not it is a dominant role for you depends on how much time you devote to playing it. Sell-outs make choices they know are based on expediency, what's easy rather than right, cashing in their values and dreams for money, power, comfort, security, or status. Common expressions of this role occur when you choose a career you don't enjoy, or marry someone you don't love for security or status. Selling out damages not only you but also the fabric of life around you.
Criminal. This role is somewhat different from the everyday use of the word. Most people in prison fit the common definition: someone who commits acts against the law. But not all fit the role described here. The Criminal role includes people without much moral or ethical concern about the damage they inflict on other people as they pursue their own advancement, power, or wealth. They may have antisocial or psychopathic tendencies or simply not care how their actions affect others. The bad guy in the movies, the Mafia hit man, and the soldier of fortune fill this role wonderfully, but so do some perfectly respectable citizens who happily rob you with a fountain pen. Computer virus creators fall into this category. Wherever you find hired guns, you also will find people playing the Criminal role: some lawyers, lobbyists, politicians, financial finaglers, and so forth.
Bully. The bully dominates others through force--either physical force or just a dominating personality focused on getting its way no matter what.
ROLES GROUPED BY PERSONALITY TYPE
From this point on, the roles listed are grouped by the personality types that are often linked with them. Any of these roles could be one of yours, no matter what your personality type. The reason I put them in groups is because these roles are especially common in people of certain personality types. So look especially carefully at the group listed under your personality type, but check them all out to see if they describe one of your dominant roles.
Manager. The natural organizer and administrator of people and projects. Although often in a leadership position, a Manager is not necessarily a natural authority or visionary leader. Supervisor, captain of a team, gets the job done. Whether in the workplace, at home, planning a vacation or dinner party, the Manager brings order to chaos, sets the agenda, plans the project, orchestrates the activities, and manages the resources to make it all happen.
Builder/Designer. The natural engineer is born to build, tinker, and find practical solutions to tangible problems. Builders often show signs of their gift early in life, engineering things out of Lego blocks that often astound their parents. All engineering specialties, the trades, architecture, and the hardware and software sides of information technology are playgrounds for Builders. They are the tool makers and tool users who build and improve the efficiency of our everyday lives, following in the footsteps of Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell. Crafting and shaping the physical world of objects and things to serve human purposes is their joy.
Athlete. The embodiment of strength, character, commitment, and determination to push the human body and mind to its limits. The Athlete's spirit is expressed in the relentless pursuit of physical and mental mastery, and in someone less competitive is sometimes expressed as simply loving a sport or other athletic activity for the sheer joy of it. Olympic and professional athletes, classical musicians, circus performers, dancers, stunt people, soldiers, fighter pilots, explorers, rescue personnel, and outdoor adventurers.
Streetwise Person. Walks the urban landscape keenly aware of what's going on, the intentions of people they encounter, and potential threats. Their movements anti actions are consistent with survival—they know when to cross to the other side of the street. This is one of the most ancient roles. Imagine you and your tribe are walking down the trail twenty thousand years ago and suddenly come upon a strange group of people. You would want to have someone in your group who could pick up Ow the other people and know instinctively if they meant you harm. People with this trait are often attracted to police work, undercover intelligence. firefighting. and emergency medic/paramedic fields, including animal rescue and disaster relief.
Protector. Keeper of traditions, guardian of the rules, laws. customs, and socially accepted morals. The Protector sees the world through a lens of shoulds and shouldn'ts, judging rights and wrongs. holding life as black and white. Plays by the rules. Defending homeland and honor, Protectors are usually loyal to whatever they identify as their tribe: country, organization, belief system. Usually socially conservative, they strive to maintain important values and ways of life. Protectors are attracted to professions that enforce and make more rules. as law enforcement personnel, federal agency regulators, and armed forces.
Right-Hand Person (Helper/Sidekick/Companion/Server). The ultimate "right hand" who gets the job done. Their strength. dedication, loyalty, and supportive nature are often the real backbone of an organization. Vice presidents, chief operating officers, general managers, executive assistants, and secretaries often say they are not interested in being the main person out front, but thrive as the one who makes it all work behind the scenes. Some are Companions or Sidekicks with a giving nature who find joy in serving, hosting, and pleasing others. Some become waiters or work in other hospitality industry careers; others work as cook drive a taxi, or run a hotel. Helpers are often grossly underappreciated.
Teacher/Mentor. Drawn to educate, instruct, and pass on know) edge or wisdom to students and apprentices. Teachers instruct groups of students, where Mentors take an individual apprentice and their wing to pass on their mastery.
Healer. The modern descendant of our hunter-gather ancestors shaman. The Healer is called to heal the sick and restore well-being to those suffering. Strangely enough, many modern physicians do not identify with this as a dominant role. They practice medicine in another role.
Caregiver. An innate to take care of other people or animals is the main characteristic of this role. the Caregiver's nonjudgemental, responsive, and nurturing spirit calms people who come in contact with them. With their power of empathy, they nurse others back to health, help them through a crisis and care for the elderly. They make the perfect nurse, hospice counselor or physical therapist.
Animal Lover. Able to bond with the animal kingdom. They enjoy spending time with animals and often have a special ability to communicate with them. People with this temperament will go out of their way to train, care for, or rescue animals in distress. Naturalists, zookeepers, ecologists, racehorse trainers, jockeys, search-and-rescue dog trainers, ASPCA officers, veterinarians, and avid pet owners usually inhabit the Animal Lover role.
Artisan. The crafter of artistic and functional objects, the Artisan is the craftsperson who makes beautiful and functional objects by hand. Many have a designer's aesthetic; their finely tuned senses are sensitive to subtleties of design, color, form, taste, touch. Chefs. fashion designers, interior designers, landscape designers, home remodelers, stonemasons, historic preservationists, antique appraisers, furniture makers, instrument makers, vintners, musicians, makeup artists, massage therapists, and hairstylists often embody the Artisan role.
Hedonist. The pleasure seeker whose philosophy is "Why put off what you can enjoy now?" and who lives for the moment. They are the ultimate shoppers, the impulse buyers. The dark side of hedonism is when it interferes with living sensibly, attaining long-range goals, and forming lasting relationships.
Sensualist. Considers life a grand feast for the senses, finds delight in the sensual world. They may love music, art, food, touch, nature, physical pleasures, scent, or beauty. This is a different role from the Hedonist in that it lacks the compulsive "pleasure, now, now, now" quality of the Hedonist.
Scientist. Seeking understanding and drawn to experiment, Scientists inquire into the mysteries of life to understand and explain the laws of nature or the universe. Some are interested in the physical universe, others in social or psychological science.
Investigator. Some detectives solve homicides; others seek a cure for cancer. What all Investigators have in common is a nose for a good clue and a mind that can't help looking under the surface to figure out the truth. They constantly pay attention to their environment with a critiquing ability that allows them to discover clues that might not be obvious to others. Detectives, scientists, inventors, mystery writers, counselors, lawyers, and crime scene investigators embody this gift.
Entrepreneur. Innovative by nature, the Entrepreneur builds businesses from the ground up. They make use of a wide range of natural talents, calling on multiple abilities to create something that didn't exist before. They take pride in being able to do it on their own, counting on their own resources, talents, and know-how.
Innovator/Pioneer. Goes where no man or woman has gone before, exploring the unknown territories of inner or outer worlds. Innovators bring new ideas, tools and toys, systems, theories, technologies, and discoveries into being. The ultimate "paradigm shifters," Innovators are drawn to operate on the edge of the unknown. Pioneers are similar, with one difference: their focus is less on creating something new than on exploring unknown territory or making use of a new technology as an early adopter. Both can operate without the agreement of society. They are often subject to the criticism of people who mindlessly defend the status quo.
Amateur. They delight in some specialty without the drive (or sometimes talent) to become a professional. The inspired amateur may love sports, the arts, cooking, cars, or any other area. They are often passionately engaged in their interest, but happy to let others do it for a living. Sometimes their passion takes so much of their attention that they fail to develop the same level of interest in their career. It is especially useful to claim this role if it fits you so you don't get overwhelmed by your hobbies or feel you have failed because your hobby is not your profession.
Critic. Critics have the eye of a hawk, the nose of a dog, the sonar of a bat. Nothing gets by them. Critics are born to find flaws or get to the truth under the surface appearances. They look for "what's wrong with this picture," sleuth out the hidden agenda, the design flaws, let us know why we shouldn't bother to see that movie. They have a built-in lie detector and tend to critique everything that crosses their radar screen.
Geek. Geeks have their attention narrowly focused on scientific or technical pursuits, often to the exclusion of other interests. At one time, Beek was an insult by nongeeks confusing geekdom with social ineptitude. These days, the fact that many billionaires are geeks has changed public perception of the role.
Lifelong Learner. The perennial student, always curious to learn more. You should hope that your doctor is one of these people.
Guide/Coach/Counselor/Therapist. These four roles are similar in some ways. They all involve working with a person or group to help them reach a goal or learn something new. The Guide is the highest, most evolved form of teacher. Guides communicate wisdom, based on their personal mastery of a subject that comes from many years of experience. Guides transmit principles, the heart of the matter, and are often the most creative contributors to their field.
The Coach role assists a talented, committed person in reaching a goal. Many years ago, when I made up the term "career coach," I thought the term "career counselor" was insufficient, implying the provision mostly of information and advice. A Coach, on the other hand, figures out what it will take for you to reach your goal, elicits your strengths, assigns appropriate tasks, and makes sure you get to your goal. You do the work, whether that means practicing your sport every day or moving toward some important personal goal. A relationship with a Coach is a partnership between you and your Coach. Today there are personal, life, romance, business, career, and spiritual coaches in addition to the original—the athletic coach.
The Counselor provides advice and information, such as a lawyer, psychologist, the more capable physicians, and some of the best professors. They rely on a deep well of knowledge and years of experience to give you the best advice.
The Therapist works with people needing some form of help, who are suffering from some problem, and who take on the role of patient. What distinguishes this role is that the Therapist helps resolve or cure something that is perceived as a problem or shortcoming.
Charming Enchanter. The person who enchants others with a tale, a tune, an idea, a look. Enchanters are often quick-witted, articulate persuaders who easily influence others with their charisma, charm, or wit. Some, like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, combine the Enchanter role with the Leader role into a powerful political personality. Others use this role to convince people to buy what they're selling, from CEO to salesperson or museum director who uses charm to raise funds. On the dark side, the Enchanter manipulates or seduces others into their web with selfish designs.
Romantic. The passionate lover of life, people, culture, art, music, food, sex, science, technology, the unknown, the mysterious, or whatever their fancy may be. Floating in a starry sky, the Romantic is rarely realistic, always hopeful, forever seeking passion and connection. They may find reality tiresome.
Artist/Poet. The artistic visionary who sees through everyday existence into the hidden world of truth, beauty, comedy, and tragedy, and who expresses their vision as a communication to us through many media. William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, E. E. Cummings, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Abraham Lincoln all expressed and communicated their passionate, subjective, sensitive intuitions and truths through their art, whether poetry, drama, lyrics, paintings, photography, film, architecture, or other media, and once in a great while in politics. The genius of our greatest creative thinkers, such as Albert Einstein, often comes from their ability to combine the roles of Scientist and Artist.
Visionary. The dreamer who sees beyond the commonplace, everyday reality and who imagines new possibilities. These possibilities may be new ideas, points of view. paradigms, methods, forms of self-expression.
Advocate. Committed to furthering an ideal or coming to the defense of a person. group, or cause, the Advocate goes to battle as the champion of something they believe in. Many are idealistic and attracted to fighting injustice and the shortcomings of society. Nonprofit directors, philanthropists, environmentalists, legislators, and district attorneys often embody this role. Others, like lawyers or lobbyists, are paid advocates who may or may not believe in what they are fighting for.
Mediator/Peacemaker. They find a bridge between the different sides of a dispute. Usually gifted with a diplomatic talent and a knack for bringing people and groups together, they are facilitators who move people toward resolving conflicts.