Wearing Multiple Hats

April 25, 2011

How many hats do you wear?

Yesterday for Easter we played a best bonnet contest. Everyone wore their favorite hat and it added to the happiness of the day.  I shared the story of the bonnet contest on Facebook, and my friend Maryanne Bobrow joked that she has an entire closet full of hats. She, however, was not referring to physical hats, but to the symbolic type.  The type of hat that represents the various roles that we wear in both our personal and professional lives.

Types of Hats

You might be an employee who is working on budgets one day and dealing with human resources issues the next. You might be a business owner visiting with suppliers one moment and working on a proposal the next. You might be both an employee and a business owner trying to find balance in your life. You might be a parent celebrating your child’s win at the local spelling bee or comforting them over their first broken heart. You might be the friend who is giving advice to one person and crying on the shoulder of another.

As I began to think more and more about the different types of hats that we wear, I realized how important it is to be comfortable and happy in the hats that we  have selected for ourselves.

How does wearing your hat make you feel?

We don’t have control over everything in our lives, but it is important to enjoy what we are doing.  Do you enjoy your work? Are you passionate about it? Does it fulfill you? If not, what can you do to change this? Can you take on more projects or let some go? Will the results of your actions enhance your life?

Does the hat fit?

Sometimes we take on more than we can handle. We are forced to make choices and give up some things in order to stay focused and productive. There is nothing wrong with saying no at the right times.  On the flip side, you might have room in your life for more.  This might be tackling a new project at work, volunteering for a community organization or taking up a hobby. Of course, sometimes it is not always possible to give things up. If you are a parent, you might consider selling your kids on Craigslist. (NO, don’t do this, I’m joking).

Is the hat appropriate for the occasion?

When we wear a lot of hats, sometimes it is can’t be difficult to keep the lines clear. If you are having dinner with your friends who happen to be teachers, they might not care about the latest merger that your company is going through. In your professional life, it might not be appropriate to talk about your weekend in Vegas. However, you need to test the waters.  Learn what people are interested in knowing about and share what they might find interesting. A prospect might be planning a much needed vacation to Las Vegas and might want suggestions on where to stay, where to eat and what shows to see.

Does the hat clash with what you are wearing?

Sometimes our lives don’t always mesh well together. We might be spending a lot of time at work to the detriment of personal relationships. We might want to volunteer for organizations that are not supported by our employers. We might be an employee and wish we were an owner. We might be an owner and wish we simply collected a paycheck and went home at 5pm.  It is important to find as much synergy and balance in our lives as possible. The more we can bring our values together, the happier and more successful we will be.

Is someone else wearing the exact same hat?

This can be a great problem to have. Perhaps you are working in an organization and two people are doing the same thing. Maybe there is room to eliminate redundancy, to help each person discover their strengths and to improve the overall productivity of the organization.

Is it time to take off the hat?

Just like it’s not proper etiquette to wear a hat indoors or at the dinner table, sometimes it’s time to take the hat off. This might mean taking a mini-vacation, a two-week sabbatical or simply turning off your cell phone on the weekend. Sometimes, we have to take off all of our hats and just be true to ourselves.

How many hats do you wear? How do you manage to keep them all fashionable?