I think I have a little mini-series of posts in my head … a lot of processing and thinking to do, in a good way! Here’s the first part …
I spend a good chunk of time at work helping people – employees, managers, organizations, whatever – crystallize their goals and plans. Maybe it’s goals for their career, maybe it’s goals for the organization to reach within the year or five years, maybe it’s goals for a specific project. We plan full day workshops to work on organizational strategic planning. I’ll spend an hour or two with an employee, talking about their motivators and demotivators (is too a word), their interests and goals, and what they can do to take steps in that direction.
What’s the old saying? “The cobbler’s wife has no shoes, the doctor’s wife is always sick”… something like that. What I mean by that is that I rarely remember to turn the attention to myself – where do I want to be in five years? Where do I want to grow, try new things, or stop old habits?
Most of the time, there’s work to do before we can even get to that conversation. It’s the “Who am I?” conversation. As a professional, I counsel people that it’s one of the best and most important conversations they can have, whether as an individual or a team. “Who am I? What’s my identity? What’s my purpose?”
A lot of the time that can get too overwhelming. We think we have to have a big huge answer, complete with world-changing personal impact. Then we get caught in a trap of “What if I’m not special? What if I can’t change the world? What if who I am isn’t good enough?”
So let’s get that out of the way: you are special. You are unique. As Dr. Seuss says:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” (Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You)
I love that quote because every person has something about them that sets them apart from the body on the other side of them. One of the biggest problems I see is that people don’t appreciate themselves enough. Or they appreciate themselves too much, but then they don’t come talk to me because they already have it all figured out. Ahem.
These are the questions I ask them, and that I want to ask myself:
- What do you love to do, even if you’re not the best at it?
- What would you spend your day doing if money, time, and other commitments weren’t a factor?
- What, when you finish it, gives you an enormous sense of satisfaction?
- What are you also good at?
- What do other people always come to you for?
- What would make you miserable if you had to stop doing it?
Even when I’m talking with people about their professional careers, I ask them to think about the full spectrum of their lives – personal and professional. Sometimes we think that our personal inclinations and preferences have to stay out of our professional lives (and sometimes we’re right!). Sometimes, though, we can find hidden things in our personal life preferences that would add a lot more joy to our professional life.
So that’s my assignment for today: What makes Erin me-er than me?
What about you? What’s youer than you?