I was recently working with an executive who was struggling with whether or not to pursue a promotion. On the one hand, this was the next logical step in his professional career, which would put him at the top levels of his organization. On the other hand, it would mean more travel, more work hours, and an overall commitment that would impact his personal time.
He wanted to discuss the pros and cons of his situation. As an executive, he was constantly responding to what the company wanted, what his customers wanted, and what his management team wanted. So, I simply asked him, “What do you want?”. He paused and said, “I’ve never even thought about what I want because I’ve just always done what I had to do to get the job done.”
I find this to be true with most of the executives that I work with. Once you get to a high level in any organization, there are fewer people asking you what you need and want. You are in a position to provide that to others to meet the strategic goals of the company. However, consider this to be the experience for any individual. How often do we engage in our day to day activities without considering what we want? How do we know what we want? I find that the first answer comes from what we don’t want.
In my coaching experience I’ve also observed individuals not identifying what they want for fear of failure. Failure is actually better than doing nothing. You learn from the experience and set yourself up for growth and success. We could work the rest of our lives and do what we think we need to do to get the job done. Or, we can take the time to create what we want now and in the future. The future will happen. Would you rather it happen to you or by your design?