In the game of life, what roles are you currently playing? By “role” I don’t mean formal position, like starting quarterback or point guard, but more or less the contributions you are making as you go about living. Are you content with the roles that you play, or do you desire a change?
It’s not a new metaphor, but one that I find quite intriguing. Of course we know that in reality, life is not a game, with winners or losers, though it does at times appear to be a semblance of one. Over the course of a lifetime, the average person oscillates between roles – often juggling several simultaneously – as their maturity level, personal circumstances, and priorities change. Sometimes we find ourselves playing roles that feel quite natural to us, while other times we may find ourselves way outside of our comfort zone and longing for a way up or out.
Some of the roles that people have a tendency to play over the course of their lives include:
Star Athlete – Some folks love to bring the razzle-dazzle to life. We can always count on them to steal the spotlight, and many times we even shine it on them just for the thrill. While most star athletes have worked hard to achieve their status, you will occasionally find one who was “thrust” into the position for one reason or another and may or may not feel comfortable in that role. Then there are those people who are star athletes only in their own minds, and those who just somehow managed to get lucky…
Team Captains – People who are team captains in life seem to have a gift for inspiring the masses into action. They are not just good for giving words of wisdom; they are always and forever active participants in every game. A good team captain is rarely self-centered and will always look out for the good of the team.
Coaches – The best coaches are often the veterans of life who can use the experience they have gained to enlighten others and help them move forward on their journey. Coaches are invaluable resources, but not always respected for the knowledge that they bring to the game of life.
Benchwarmers – Some people are benchwarmers in life by choice, while others are benchwarmers by circumstance. Those who choose to sit on the bench may do so for a number of reasons, be it fear of failure or success, the desire to take the easy road, or feeling obligated to play a “sport” they really do not enjoy. Benchwarmers by circumstance may feel as though they are constantly overlooked and their value consistently minimized.
Players – These individuals work hard to make their contributions but may never achieve (or desire) the spotlight. They rarely bring the bells and whistles, but their skills and dedication are solid and greatly missed on those rare occasions when they fail to show on game day.
Cheerleaders – Though they don’t actually play in the game, they do play an important role in boosting others’ morale. They view the team’s victory as their own, as well as any losses that may occur. They can be counted on for encouragement through the good and not-so-good times. They bring the spirit come rain or shine.
Refs – Refs are the shot callers of life. It’s their way or the highway. Don’t give them too much lip, or you might be ejected from the game! In all seriousness, refs do have a purpose in life, and that is (theoretically) to remain objective, assess situations for what they are, and enforce the rules as they apply. They keep the game moving.
It’s possible to play one or two roles in one area of your life and play an entirely different role in another. For example, when it comes to family life, many parents find themselves vacillating between the roles of coach, ref and cheerleader, while at work they may serve an entirely different role, such as that of team captain or player.
If you don’t know what roles you play in the game of life, or hate the ones you play and are just going through the motions, it may be time to take a step back and engage in some introspection. From time to time we all need to change roles – or sometimes even teams – in order to achieve the kind of personal fulfillment that makes the game of life worth playing.
It’s also possible that upon self-reflection, you’ll discover that you play a role I didn’t even mention (some days, I really feel as though I’m working the concession stand and I just ran out of ice, condiments and hotdog buns, and now my doggone cash register is out of order!). Regardless of your situation, a little self-awareness goes a long way. It is in fact, often the first step toward personal growth.