The Five Roles We Play

There are five roles that each person on our planet takes. The potential for each of these roles exists in all of us, and we all embody each of them at one time or another. That being said, each person has a primary role. The roles are: Explorer, Leader, Facilitator, Reminder, and Servant.



Explorers open new worlds—often inadvertently. They usually do what they feel drawn to, largely for the sake of realizing their desires and satisfying their curiosity. Some of the endeavors they desire to undertake can seem either excessively bold, downright selfish, or a combination of both.

However, if they commit sufficiently and take their explorations far enough, they can end up benefitting other people—regardless of whether they originally intended to. This is what it means that explorers open new worlds inadvertently: they simply follow their feelings and end up pioneering entirely new ideas and inventions.

Charles Darwin did not board the Beagle with the intention of coming up with a theory that radically transformed science and continues to heavily influence scientific thought today, over 100 years later. In this way, some explorers take us to new heights and become important messengers. Their active, powerful imaginations are their strength.

It’s worth noting that, because anything possible is eligible to be explored, explorers can and do explore the other four roles available to humans as well.

The highest value of explorers is freedom.



Leaders are among the most deliberate people on Earth. They are very clear about why they’re here and they know exactly what they’re doing. They are still susceptible to mistakes, but they know what they want, and they fully commit themselves to getting it.

The common desire of leaders is forward progress, and this is also their highest value. Leaders may define “forward progress” differently from one another, and go about creating forward progress in different ways.

Leaders are often considered to be “unreasonable,” in the sense that they desire something that the world cannot readily provide to them. As such, they must throw their entire lives into fulfilling their dreams, because these dreams are often big, world-changing, and long-remembered.

It is the clarity, decisiveness, and commitment to a clear vision that affects many people that makes a leader a leader. If you don’t know what you want, are indecisive and hesitant, and/or your desires bear little impact on others, you will not have much leading to do. Leaders definitely take a dominant, rather than a submissive, approach to life, meaning that they function as the bosses of their own lives (rather than handing this role over to someone else) and they are competent at influencing and commanding other people. Leaders also take complete responsibility for everything that they experience.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Steve Jobs are examples of leaders who have existed in fairly recent times.



Facilitators hold the space for others to live life. They are the “maintainers” and “anchors” of society: facilitators basically keep things stable while people in the other roles do their thing. Facilitators may rule a country, raise a child, or both.

Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain were the facilitators of the explorer Christopher Columbus’ endeavor to discover a west-bound route to Asia. Barack Obama is maintaining the governing structure of America in which I and millions of other Americans live our lives. The mayor of my town is doing something similar, although on a much smaller scale and in a less profound way.

People who spend much of their lives in fairly common careers are also facilitators. Schoolteachers bring children into the ways and knowledge of our world, as it stands right now. Maintenance workers, such as school janitors, maintain this same space in which children are educated.

More often than not, facilitators don’t make a huge impact on the world directly. However, their work and their presence creates the space in which people who will and do have such an impact can learn and experience life. A teacher’s greatest ambition is to bring up a student who becomes a master and has a significant effect upon the world. Likewise, the Queen and the King might not have done anything incredibly noteworthy themselves, but without them Columbus might have been unable to make his journey.

Facilitators who aren’t political leaders tend to take a submissive, rather than a dominant, approach to life. The Facilitator role is roughly the opposite of the Leader role, because it values stability rather than forward progress.

The highest values of facilitators are predictability, stability, and security.



“Reminder” is a rather kind term. These people remind us of who we are not. Reminders are the low-energy, dark forces of our world. These are the criminals, mentally ill, troublemakers, disrupters, loafers, and so-called “villains” who walk planet Earth.

Contrast is a key element of our physical reality. We cannot experience light without darkness, warm without cold, tall without short. Reminders create a context in which we can remember, experience, and express who we really are-- beings of light, love, and divinity.

The reminder role is not taken up consciously. No one wakes up one day and decides that they are going to embody darkness for the explicit purpose of creating a context in which other people can remember who they really are. If they were that self-aware, they would immediately pass into another role. The souls of these people make such a decision, but a thought even remotely like this never passes through their minds.

Indeed, reminders may do what they do deliberately, but reminders of this sort actually believe that their actions are acts of defense, rather than offense. No one attacks solely for the sake of attack: everyone perceives themselves to be a defender.

Even then, many reminders do not do what they do deliberately: in fact, they feel out of control. Organized criminals and dark-hearted business and political leaders tend to be deliberate: such people are called darkworkers. On the other hand, petty criminals, people who are mentally ill for life, and people who just can’t seem to get themselves together are very indeliberate: this lack of awareness, clarity, and decisiveness pains them and keeps them disempowered.

The highest value of reminders is self-gain.



Servants fully remember who they are and have incarnated solely to assist others—in particular, those who do not remember who they are, at a given moment. Their purpose is purely to serve.

Servants are different from facilitators in that they are much more deliberate and aware, and take more initiative. Servants don’t necessarily value stability and security, either: because they know who they are they have no need for external security. As such, servants are less likely to take up conventional forms of work.

Servants have a way of showing up right when they’re needed, at the right place and right time. They look and act like normal people, though they typically have a light vibe and feel great to be around. Servants can also be thought of as angels, a similar term to which is dakini. I wrote about someone who I considered to be an angel in A Return with Love.

Servants can be hard to point out. If you take a subjective view of reality, it makes sense to imagine that servants simply appear to you in a particular form, when you need them, and when you part ways with them they cease to exist in that form: the servant(s) will then appear to you again later in another form.

This is the rule of thumb about servants: if you have to ask whether you are a servant, you aren’t one.

The highest values of servants are giving and selflessness.


Who Are You?

Don’t be so quick to write yourself off as a facilitator if your life has been relatively conventional up to this point. Don’t hide behind that role just because you’re afraid to do something that seems more “weird” and difficult. It’s well and perfect to be a facilitator if you really are one, but if you’re just pretending to be one in order to keep yourself “safe” the only person you’re deluding is yourself. If the role of facilitator is well-aligned with who you are, embrace that path. Remember that even the rulers of countries are facilitators. On the other hand, if you feel called to something else, then own that.

Likewise, don’t write yourself off as a reminder if you perceive you’ve been relatively despicable, destitute, or otherwise a bit of a drag as a person. Remember that the reminder role is not consciously chosen. I have given you the opportunity here to consciously review the roles humans take. As such, you can consider the other four roles and see which really calls to you. You might just be an explorer or leader who has thus far resisted or had difficulty seeing the path ahead. Keep in mind that people who embrace living consciously and who do great things for the world often have dark pasts. Malcolm X had a thing for cocaine and wound up in jail before he became a leader of the civil rights movement and devoted his life to empowering black people in the United States.

The roles you’re most likely to fall into are explorer or facilitator. You also might be a leader, though such people exist in far fewer numbers than explorers and facilitators. If you’re a servant, you know this without question. If you’re a reminder, you wouldn’t be reading this article.

I myself best fit the role of explorer. Indeed, I write as a way of exploring and sharing what I’ve explored. Each exploration opens up a new world for me, and what I share may open up new worlds for others. In time I may explore an idea or an endeavor that has been previously unexplored by people, and in that way I’ll open up a new world for humanity as a whole. The premise excites me.

I’ve been cultivating the qualities of the leader-role in myself over time, too, such as decisiveness, taking initiative when it comes to communication, a clear vision of the world I want to create, and consciously taking charge of my life. I also have a way of being unreasonable, in regards to my desires. On the other hand, I’ve lived a good deal of my life on the “down low,” and overall I blend in pretty well with the rest of the world. I don’t feel that leader is my primary role.

As for the other roles, I barely do anything facilitator-like, and I know I’m not a servant. If I was a reminder, I definitely would not be writing this article, much less reading anything like it. Overall, I’m an explorer who is developing leader-like qualities.

It’s worth noting that some people exhibit multiple roles strongly. Adolf Hitler, for example, was very solidly both a leader and a reminder. Because he ruled a country, he was also a facilitator. In the context of the story of humanity as a whole, Hitler was primarily a reminder, since he directly did not produce forward progress (though, in fact, the opposite). Even so, to many people (i.e. the Germans) he was indeed a leader and a facilitator of their well-being.


So, who are you? Which role resonates with you? Do you feel drawn to explore something in particular, or do you have a clear, big vision you desire to implement? Do you like the idea of having a fairly predictable life and being someone others can rely on to take care of them in some fashion, or would you rather exchange some of that stability for the ability to serve in a bigger and purer way? Do you know with certainty which one you are, or would you like to explore the different roles and see which one suits you (hint hint)? We know one thing for sure: your heart is not made of darkness. J

Just remember: we all have been and are all of it.

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