Man of Steel: Coping with life’s roles and responsibilities

I admire superheros. They can dodge bullets, fight the evilest of villains, and get away with wearing some pretty interesting uniforms. However, they are still very human due to one common weakness: Role conflict.

Like superheroes, we have different roles in our lives that require varying levels of responsibility. We have a responsibility to our employers to be productive, we have a responsibility to our families to be supportive, and we have a responsibility to ourselves to accomplish our life goals. Although we will never have the ability to leap over buildings in a single bound, we can relate to the fact that, like superheroes, we are forced to cope with the increasing number of roles in our life and how they conflict with each other.

For example, Peter Parker wanted to be with Mary Jane, but his duties as Spider-Man hampered efforts to maintain a normal relationship; Clark Kent’s work ethics were called into question when he would “disappear” from newsworthy situations involving Superman. Although Peter and Clark were committed to their superhero duties, that dedication led to negative consequences in their personal lives. When we prioritize one role, we risk compromising another. Life quickly becomes a balancing act and the possibility of failure a very real and constant stressor.

With all the parts we play in life, role conflict is often unavoidable - but we can prepare ourselves to manage its side effects.


Our stress increases when we have to choose between our duties. Pete Blaber, a former Delta Force commander and author of the book The Mission, The Men, and Me offers the following considerations:

1. The Mission’s the purpose for which you’re doing what you’re doing. Whether in your personal or professional life, make sure you understand it, and that it makes legal, moral, and ethical sense, then use it to guide all your decisions

2. The Men

Take care of your men’s welfare by listening and leading them with sound tactics and techniques that accomplish your mission, and by always having the courage of your convictions to do the right thing by them.

3. Me

Me comes last for a reason. You have to take care of yourself, but you should only do so after you have taken care of the mission, and the men. Never put your own personal well-being, or advancement, ahead of the accomplishment of your mission and taking care of your men...

By refocusing my mind on my mission, my responsibility to my men’s welfare, and then putting any thoughts of me completely out of the equation, I was able to recognize and adapt to a hauntingly familiar pattern of modern-day battlefield behavior while it unfolded in front of me

When you are faced with role conflict, refocus and remind yourself of your mission, the welfare of the people you care about, and lastly your own personal well-being. This will decrease your stress level by not only prioritizing your duties, but by understanding them. In doing so, you will do more than just make a good decision, you’ll make the right one...which hopefully doesn’t involve tights and a cape.