Know your role: a businesswoman walking in the middle of coworkers, walking in silence as everyone else talks.

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Know Your Role: You Can’t Always Be the Main Character

You’ve probably heard it said that everybody is the hero of their own story. And it’s true. But so is this: everyone is in someone else’s story. That’s part of why it’s important to know your role in any given situation.

Know your role, accept your role, play your role

Just like your family, your friends, and even your coworkers may be supporting actors (or extras) in your life story, you’re bound to have a supporting or background role in other stories. It’s just a fact of life. And until you know your role in these other stories, it’s only a matter of time before you lock horns with another character.

Simply put, there’s no story where everyone can be the main character. The best friend character is integral. The wise old counselor is vital. Shoot, sometimes that throwaway character, that weird one who’s only there for one scene, is the linchpin for an entire saga. Without these other characters, the story doesn’t work—in life even more than in a book. So, the sooner you can recognize which stories you’re in and the role you have in them, the better. You need to know your role.

Then you need to accept your role. Accept that you can’t be the main character everywhere you go. It’s okay to have a “reduced” role. It’s okay to be second fiddle. But you’ll never succeed in these positions if you’re always trying to get out of them. Accept the role you have, however small. Own it. Embrace it.

Then, last but not least, play your role. Give it all you’ve got. Play your role to the best of your ability, and then up your abilities. The better you play your role, the better the story turns out. Why do you think people win Oscars and Emmys for Best Supporting Actor?

Everybody is the hero of their own story. And everyone is in someone else’s story. Two things can be true at once. So, when you know your role, accept your role, and play your role, you can excel as the main character in your own story while also being the best side character in another.

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