Are You Wearing the Role You Occupy? – Brave Now

Watching Slash with my love @jcqly :)

No, this isn’t one of those rah rah posts where I call you all rockstars. I’m over that. This, instead, is where you and I take a look at what it takes to fly, and part of that is the bravery to assume your role fully.

What Hillbilly Herald Taught Me About Bravery

You don’t have to listen to this song by the band Hillbilly Herald, but it’d help you get a taste of what I’m about to talk about. (Oh, the language is not safe for work.)

Can’t see the video? Click HERE

Jacq and I saw Hillbilly Herald as the opening act for Slash the other night at the Hampton Beach Ballroom, a legendary but small venue. When you’re the opening act, you’ve got a really tricky gig. You have to be really good, plus you have to be somewhat complementary to what the headlining act is going to be, and you have to be able to stand on your own with a rock band’s ego.

Jimmy Herald, the lead singer of the above-mentioned Hillbilly Herald, had a powerful stage presence. He kept leaping onto the monitors and staring out into the audience with an almost crazed expression. He made a lot of eye contact. And he said all the things a lead singer of a rock and roll band should say, loudly, proudly, and as crass as a… well, a rock star.

What I learned by looking at Jimmy that night was that he looked the part, he performed in a role that we’d expect, and he took on the mantle of lead singer of a rock band. Does Jimmy Herald act like that when he’s sitting in a restaurant? Probably not. Is he every bit as bombastic as he was when he worked whatever his last real day job was? No, he’s a hundred times more outgoing, whether he’s the most shy guy in the world inside.

Be Willing to Commit Fully

I was talking to S. Anthony Iannarino about the acting in a certain movie. He told me about a story that Dustin Hoffman said about getting the role of Captain Hook in the movie “Hook.” He said something akin to: “They would’ve given it to DeNiro but they were worried he’d cut his hand off.” (Meaning, he is the kind of character who is very committed to his roles.)

What does it take to be who you intend to be? What level of confidence and bravery does it require? If you’re naturally shy, is that a challenge to you?

Here’s a Recipe to consider when working on wearing your role.


  • The larger vision that you drive by goals.
  • A sense of what will help you succeed (boldness? collaboration? patience?)
  • The willingness to assume a role different than your default self.


Decide that you’re willing to embrace the role you need to play for the work you’re doing. If you need to be a bit more outward than normal, then try to play that role to serve those visions. I’m not really saying “be someone you’re not.” I’m asking if you’re willing to amp up whichever behaviors you’ll need to achieve your goals.

Be brave in being who you need to be, but not invulnerable. Leaders can be wrong. Bosses don’t have all the answers. The lead singer of the band has to back down every now and again, no matter how the legends go.

If you are quite different from this role you’re assuming (maybe you’re super shy but have duties as a public speaker), you’ll need extra recovery time. Be ready for this. Plan for it. Don’t overschedule yourself, if you’re pushing into parts of your personality that aren’t the norm.

Bold is a Nice Cousin to Brave

Brett Cohen is your typical guy. He looks typical. He has a rather common job. But one day, he decided to try something out. He decided to be a celebrity. He ended up temporarily convincing thousands of people in New York City that he was the latest young celebrity.

Pay attention to Brett’s expressions in this video. Look at the various ways his transformation changes him. Look at how his choice to be bold and imitate confidence gave him many new traits. Also realize how he carried himself before the transformation. There’s a lot to learn and model in here.

How will you accept the role you’re in? What are you doing to be the person you want to be? What part of it is the hardest for you?

If you missed my presentation with S. Anthony Iannarino called Finding The Superpower of Flight, a great deal of what we talked about would apply to this post about bravery. Included in the presentation materials are a recorded video webinar presentation, a one-hour audio program (separate to the video), and a 30+ page workbook to help you find your success in taking the next big step.

If that’s interesting, CLICK HERE runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • geoffreygordon

    Chris can i just say that i have heard about you, form as far back as 2007. Although I have read snippets of advice and seen mentions of you from other web rock-stars out there. It wasn’t until recently that i really started to pay attention to what you are saying.

    I must say that I am hooked and a believer. Your blog posts are really meaty, thought provoking and mind challenging. I loved your post above boxes and goals, then looking in the mirror and now this is another one on bravery.

    What has all this done for me, its made me get real with myself, stop looking at others dreams and start living my own. Thank you Chris yo really walk the talk and a true no nonsense inspiration to me.

    p.s love the way your website is layed out, clean, useful and with ninja precision.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks so much, Geoffrey. Very happy to make your acquaintance and I hope that you find the place useful to your needs. I’m striving to give you some tools and ideas to grow yourself, but that means you have the hard part: doing the work. : )

      Wishing you great success and I appreciate the kind words.

      • geoffreygordon

        eek my grammar is a little shocking from the previous comment sorry. That’s what happens when you speed type. I am not not afraid of work, so i look forward to learning and implementing the tools. :)

  • Christopher Somers

    Is a great thought-provoking and inspiring read for a Monday morning. Thanks again Chris!

    • Chris Brogan

      Well thanks, back, for reading it. : )

  • Maria Meiners

    On the other hand, if you constantly find yourself playing roles that aren’t you, maybe it’s time to find something to do that allows you to be authentic.

    • Chris Brogan

      It’s not that I want people to be something they’re not, but quite often we find ourselves in a role that’s different than our baseline nature.

  • Mary E. Ulrich

    Hey Chris, First of all, love the bigger print and cleaner design of your site. Also thanks for the “leader of the band” analogy. Aaron starts with his new company today (yea!) but they won’t designate a “lead staff” and it’s driving me crazy. They have the drummers, the manager… but I’m going to tell them they need a lead singer. When you go to New York, are you going to copy Brett’s mojo?

    • Chris Brogan

      Well thanks. I’m glad the design works. And no, I don’t need to get thousands of people to think I’m a star, but I *do* own the role I’m in.

  • Katybeth

    The first line in this post made me laugh out loud, “No, this isn’t one of those rah rah posts where I call you all rockstars. I’m over that.”
    I saw this on Marc and Angel Life Hacks this morning and it seemed to fit with your post.. ” Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Live the truth no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. See goodness in the world. Be Bold. Be Fierce. Be grateful. Be wild, crazy, and gloriously free.”
    Off to Rocktober!
    As always, Thank You.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks to you back. I love that. : )

  • Adam Johnson

    This is quite a nuanced article. There is obviously always an element of doing what you believe, but you have to be believable too. And unless you’re deluded, there will invariably be times when you have to do and be things you are not.

    Not bad things, just things you wouldn’t choose to be doing. An introvert speaking in public for their cause. A details-hater having to get into the nitty gritty of accounts. And so on.

    My reading of your writing is that you have to be 100% believable when you do that. There is nothing more authentic than putting your heart into something you don’t like in order to achieve a bigger picture goal.

    Nice article, and a gentle counterbalance to the rah-rah crew.

    • Chris Brogan

      Exactly so, Adam. I’d be the detail-hater. : )

  • Runner Bliss

    A roommate from way back when was in sales, and many mornings you could hear him say (to the bathroom mirror) “Put your Game Face on, it’s Showtime!!!” He was mostly positive, he enjoyed that role.

    The flip side often comes to mind, too, the one where the Joe Gideon character in “All That Jazz” cynically exclaims “It’s Showtime” to his bathroom mirror.

    I’ve recalled the Joe Gideon scene more than I would’ve liked. I don’t do well assuming roles I’m not excited about. It’s always been a challenge for me to pretend and I have a lousy poker face, to boot.

    Interesting and, yes, *very* instructive is Brett’s video! I want you and Ninja Chris Penn as my genius bodyguards, CC Chapman to work the crowd, Steve Garfield as photographer and Tom Webster as agent/media guy. Operation #snowboston :)

    • Chris Brogan

      Sounds perfect to me. Game face matters a great deal. And I like your “operation” plan. : )

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    Love the fake celebrity guy! That’s brilliant. Now he just needs to march into the movie studios and convince a producer he’s as good as everyone on the street thinks he is. I wonder if those people ever found out they got punked? LOL

    As for roles, I definitely am different in my business role than my personal one. You do what you have to do to get the job at hand done.

    • Chris Brogan

      True that. I like your thinking. : )

  • Printing Ray

    If your asked to remove your hat, remove it. It is not anything to get upset about. However some people want to whine and make a big deal out of anything.

    • Chris Brogan

      I like that. I really do. Remove the hat.

  • Sylvia Lima

    Point well made. I was laughing at the thought of how many people were uploading their pics of Brett to FB and couldn’t “tag” him. ;) Genius I say.

    Chris, I definitely feel your message and agree that stepping up your game (especially in un-chartered waters) is the name of the game nowadays. I’ll be honest, my fear is “committing fully” to a role I want to occupy without compromising the importance of the role I have which is mom. Tough one for me but I love your perspective and it makes me want to be a rockstar ;). They say patience is a virtue …

    Please send abrazos to Jacq for me. =)

    • Chris Brogan

      I will do just that, amiga. : )

  • Espi

    What a great article! Thanks Chris.

    I totally agree that sometimes in life you have to assume a role, roll with it and exude confidence. Sadly, sometimes people find themselves assuming a role that they never really wanted and they’re not sure how they got there. So after some time their game-face wears off and it becomes apparent that they are not in the right role, at all.

    The bravery required to assume a new role and to be confident that this time, it’s definitely the right thing, is something that I am dealing with at the moment and this post has given me an urge to get my NEW game-face on.

    Here’s to being brave & bold!

    • Chris Brogan

      I definitely believe we should try to be ourselves, but along the way, maybe, that isn’t always EXACTLY where we are, I suspect. : )

  • Aaron Nelson

    Great post Chris. I naturally am quiet and shy, but my role of English teacher forces me to…well, teach in front of groups. Now I’m used to it, but 10 years ago when I was just getting started, I was mess before most classes.

    New frontier: doing corporate workshops. What am I doing to be the person I want to be for this role? I’m forgetting the past and straining forward. I think part of what this great post is about it learning how to leave your comfort zones, because the solutions to your current problems are usually outside somewhere. Not where you are today.

    And that Brett guy, I’m sure I saw him in the Avengers or something. (What a crazy but interesting experiment!)

    • Chris Brogan

      Tricky, right?

      It *does* make one want to experiment in a similar way. : )

  • Melissa Ng

    In my most natural state, I’m pretty introverted and enjoy being alone with my thoughts. I’m also innately shy but most people who know me now don’t know that (However, these are not things I’m ashamed of because they’re a part of who I am…and they do have their benefits).

    In my company, I put on a pretty bouncy persona and make conversation with new and returning faces everyday. It’s more of a role I’ve adapted to serve (what I hope is) a good cause I truly believe in. Of course, in the beginning I was sweating bullets…and I’ve said plenty of facepalm-worthy things.

    It has taken a lot of practice and countless mistakes for me to gain the comfort and confidence I need both on the inside and outside. I’m always working on it. But I believe if the goal is important to you enough, it overrides the fear of doing it (although I know the fear never really goes away).

    And on a random note: did you always have a photo of yourself on the side? I feel like you’re staring into my soul…

    • Chris Brogan

      I have always had a photo on the sidebar, but this is a newer one. : ) Thanks for the giggle.

  • Katherine Emmons

    Great post — true authenticity resonates – whether on a personal level or as an organization (brand) … knowing and using your unique value proposition is a powerful thing.
    And, the lead singer in Hillbilly Herald is totally Jon Hamm in rock-drag.
    Well, and, so, taking your video examples together makes for a very nice yin-yang scenario: Huge celebrity posing as fake lead singer/regular guy… and regular guy (Brett Cohen) posing as huge celebrity.

    • Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Katherine. Jon Hamm in rock-drag. I love that!

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    First things first, accept what you
    have and the role you play then only will you be able to play your part
    superbly. Confidence comes once you know yourself and believe in what you do.
    The video of Brett is really inspiring.

    • Chris Brogan

      We agree. And interesting, right? : )

  • Duane Drzadinski

    Whether you wear a stole during mass as a celebrant, carry a cordless drill on a construction site, or simply take a deep breath prior to an important sales meeting, we all need the right tools, props, accessories, and knowledge to help us be brave and succeed.

    The trick is knowing what amounts of each item you need in your arsenal to convince others you are the expert they should listen to and follow. Ask questions to learn from others. Seek and find those that can help you reach new heights. Seize the day gloriously!

  • Melissa theSeed

    That. Was. Awesome.
    You probably won’t read this since this post is from a while back but I had to write it anyway (if only just to re-confirm the notion in my own head). I recently started a new business venture and it requires a LOT of asking. I have to ask lots of people for donations of all kinds–this particular project I am putting on a showcase of musical talent in NYC and one of the things I needed to get – for free – was a venue. I managed to get a well-known, very popular NYC club in the LES to let me have their venue FOR FREE!!! I never thought I could do this. I always have that fear of rejection & also the fear that the person I’m talking to will find out that I have no idea what I’m doing…I’m just a girl with a dream & no real experience in this type of work. But I AM a girl with a dream; a dream that means a whole lot to me, is my life’s work.
    So what do I do? I become Brad–I become the girl who is comfortable talking about money, or lack thereof if need be; about selling my dream; about bringing people on board to the best thing that can can happen to THEIR lives. I become somebody else but still ME.