What hat are you wearing?

One of my favourite leisure activities is hiking and like most people with a hobby, I like to make sure I have the right kit. On a recent holiday in the Lake District, I realised that I always carry three hats which may seem a little excessive. Here they are:

What hat are you wearing today?

What hat are you wearing today?

On the left, we have my trusty, somewhat faded baseball cap. It’s perfect for sunny days as it keeps the sun off my face and my hair out of my eyes. It’s useless in windy conditions though. For windy days, I move on to the next hat – well, it’s a tube really. My Buff is described as a headwear accessory that can be worn 13 different ways: I’m not sure whether I’ve actually used it in all those ways but it’s an essential bit of my kit. Then we come to my Wild Stripes beanie: how I love this hat on a chilly day! Whether I’m on my way up a mountain or skiing through a Norwegian forest, nothing beats this hat. So the three hats I have all meet different needs and I can choose the one most suitable for the conditions.

We all wear hats

Whether at work or in life, we all wear metaphorical hats depending on the role we are playing. We can even use this idea as a way to help us solve problems: I’ve written more about Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats here.

My client – let’s call him Tim – mentioned hats in a recent session. He’s recently been promoted amongst his peers and is settling into his new role. He talked about having to wear his ‘manager’ hat in the team and about how that was taking some getting used to, particularly as some of  his team members have become good friends over the years. I asked him what other hats he wears.

‘Well, I’m a dad and a husband and a brother and a son so I guess those are all hats I wear. I also coach my son’s football team which can be interesting. Marc was already on the team when I joined as coach so it was a bit weird for us as father and son.’

‘How have you handled that?’ I asked.

‘To make it easier, we agreed that I wouldn’t use his family nickname and that he’d call me ‘Coach’ when we were training. We make a point of not talking about what happened in training when we’re at home together – other kids on the team don’t have to face their coach popping round to give them feedback on their performance over breakfast, so Marc shouldn’t either!’, Tim laughed. ‘I guess we made it clear which hats we were wearing. Marc doesn’t need his football coach when we’re hanging out together. Maybe that’s what I need to do with my team – establish some boundaries, be straightforward about when I’m wearing my ‘boss’ hat and when I’m not. And make sure I’m wearing the right hat at the right time, of course!’

Today’s pebble for you to mull over: what different hats do you wear and why? How do you make sure you’re wearing the right one at the right time?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to take action and create positive change in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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