We were at the movie theater over the weekend and something funny happened when we went up to the counter to get our tickets.
I ask my wife if she also wants anything to eat like popcorn etc.
She says yes, and I ask the lady behind the counter where the tickets and snacks are sold for some popcorn to ring up.
She points to the next register and says "You need to get the snacks over there" (pointing about one feet over to the left).
I look at my wife like, okay and we pay for the tickets.
Then, we waddles over to the empty counter a foot over and wait for someone to help with the popcorn.
Well the lady who just sold us the movie tickets waddles over as well and says, "Can I help you?"
We almost cracked up laughing.
I said, "Yes, we would like some popcorn, please."
She says, "Sure," and proceeds to get the popcorn and we pay again.
What was hilarious was the lady selling the tickets redirected us to the counter over for the popcorn, where she in turn did the proverbial, changing of the hats, and then after selling us the tickets served us up the popcorn as well.
It reminded me of a TV episode I saw a kid where some people visit a small town and stop at the Sheriff to ask where the local inn is. The Sheriff points them down the street. Then the people go into the inn and there is the Sheriff again, but this time wearing the innkeeper's visor. After checking in, the people ask where the town pub is and then stroll over across the way. They walk up to the bar, and the bartender turns around, and sure enough it's the Sheriff/innkeeper now with a servers smock on and asks what they would like to drink.
I may not be remembering the episode completely accurately, but you get the point.
In a small town or an organization where people have to multitask, one person can play many different roles.
That's why very often management in interested in good employees who can "walk and chew gum at the same time"--employees need to be able to perform under pressure to get many projects and tasks done, simultaneously, and they very often need to assume multiple roles and responsibilities to get that done.
Pointing the finger at someone else saying not my job or the ball is in their court is no longer an excuse not to get things done. We have to shepherd the project all the way through the many leaps and hurdles that may stand in the way of progress.
When people have to perform multiple roles and jobs--due to time constraints, cost cutting, or shortage of trained and talented people--then they may have to change hats many times over the course of their day and week.
The Atlantic (5 July 2013) in an article about performing head transplants--yeah, an Italian surgeon believes this is now possible--retells an Indian folk tale called The Transposed Heads.
Two men behead themselves, and their heads are magically reattached, but to the other person's body. The clincher is that the wife of one of the men doesn't know which man to take as her husband--"the head or the heart."
It's a fascinating dilemma--what makes a person who they are--their thoughts (i.e. brain) or their feelings (i.e. heart).
Similarly, when a person performs multiple roles at home, work, and in the community--who are they really? Which role is them--at the core?
We tend to like doing one or some things better than others, but does what we like doing mean that is who we are? Maybe doing the things we don't like that challenge us to grow is what we need to be doing?
Like the lady in the movie theater--one moment she was the ticket master and the next the concessions attendant--both were her jobs.
We too are made up of multiple and complex roles and identities--we are head and heart--and all the things they drive us to do in between. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)