Old hat: New hat
We all wear different hats at different times. Sensible hats, silly hats, smart hats, swank hats, sporting hats, safety hats. Whichever hat you wear it changes the way you think and the way you act. It changes your self-image.
Physical hats are obvious in the way they change our perceptions. How different are the hats (and the feelings they bring) that you may wear to a wedding compared to a sports final barracking for your team How different is the headgear of a miner to that of a surgeon performing microsurgery?
Metaphorical hats are more subtle in how they change the way we think and act. But they do. Here are just some of the different metaphorical hats I wear and switch around depending on the situation:
- Mother, daughter, wife, sister
- Friend, colleague, neighbour
- Doctor, patient
- Writer, reader
- Client, consumer
- Employee, taxpayer, voter
And of course my newest hat: Consultant hat!!
Often we switch hats in an automatic way – we don’t really concentrate on how fast we switch roles. We just do it. But with my new consultant hat, I have been very mindful of its presence and mindful of my changed role and self perception that has come with it.
Today I went to the offices of a client – who just happened to be my former employers. My change of hat was very obvious to me.
I knew the offices very well – yet I had no security pass to get in. My old desk was no longer my space – it was depersonalised, but somehow it still felt mine in a weirdish sort of way. I was magnetically drawn there to put down my bags – and restrained myself with difficulty from sitting down.
I felt “inside-outside” with my former team – I belonged, they are my colleagues and friends. And yet there was a definite difference in the interaction – I would no longer be sharing in the daily challenges and triumphs. So it just wasn’t the same. Couldn’t be the same. Not good, not bad. Just different.
The consultant hat has also brought a change in the way I view the work. Now I can see the task in isolation without all the attendant political baggage. There is a difference in investment in the outcome – once I deliver the work, what happens after I have no control over.
For me this is good – I can think more clearly about what I’m doing. But I can see there may be frustrations that emerge in not being part of the full work lifecycle. But that is definitely part of the employee hat that I have let go of for now.
Old hat: New hat
So which hat is the best hat for me: Old hat? Or new hat? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. Hats can change our perceptions, the way we feel and act, but they cannot change the real us, our essence, our core. A hat, of any nature is only external.
So whatever hat I’m wearing, smart, silly or swank, I need to be mindful that that is just a role I’m playing for a while – it isn’t the real me at all. ‘Cos the real me doesn’t need any sort of hat.