He wears a red flannel shirt on Saturday mornings. That’s his costume. The waffle iron is his prop and the woods where we play his realm. As I write this I feel the air from the furnace of my childhood home and anticipate the smell of its musty warmth. The Bisquick waffles start to brown as autumn beckons us through the window. We’ll be out there in just a minute.
Flannel, waffles, and the crunching of fall leaves underfoot all go together to make my dad— a Dad at his best.
Who are you when you’re at your best?
Actors wear costumes, carry props, and make “home” of special realms in order to connect to the roles they play. In an interview about his Tony winning performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bill Irwin recalls the ritual that helped him drop into his role before every show.
“At “places” we always clink rings. We have these cheap brass costume wedding rings. We clink those to sort of set the marriage.”
- Bill Irwin
Look at yourself. What are you wearing? What are you carrying? And where are you doing what you do? Do your costume, prop, and scene fit the role you are playing right now?
What triggers you to feel “at my best?”
Create “Role Reminders”
so you can drop into being your best.
Here’s what I and others have said about being our best in different roles.
“As a Software Designer, I’m at my best arguing with my colleagues at a whiteboard. I wear my wool hat and wield a red marker.”
“My gloves and work hat trigger me into my Boss on the Job Site role. Then I exude the confidence my team and clients need from me.”
- Raymond, Landscape Architect.
“As a Musician, when I’m at my best, I wear simple, stylish clothing. I carry my guitar. I do my best work in front of a microphone in front of an intimate audience.”
“In my glowy yellow windbreaker, toting my U-lock, gliding past cars on my bike, I’m an Urban Navigator.”
“Wearing my flannel shirt, spatula and dish towel in hand, I listen to my daughter’s stories about her day.”
- That’s me, David, at my best, as a Father. (Sounds a lot like my dad, huh?)
Make your own Role Reminder
Dad didn’t think about how to be a Dad. He just showed up that way, but we Pilots think about our roles more consciously. It helps us find balance between them and tap our passion as we play our parts.
Try this quick exercise.
Think of one of your roles as a character in a play. Give clarity to that role by completing the following sentences. Then click Save It! to receive an email with your Role Reminder.
Finally, here’s one for us all.
“My jacket open at the chest, goggles on my head, and my sites on the horizon, I’m a Pilot steering my life as best I can.”
- Amelia, Wilbur, you, and me