Thursday, 1 March 2018

Questions With Purpose Are More Than Questions

What a difference it makes when looking through a different lens.

The situation doesn’t change, the challenge is the same but the outcome can be so different.

I was asked if I could help a recent graduate who was said to be in a bit of a rut.

Aged in her mid-twenties, she completed her studies about 18 months and secured employment  in a role that broadly uses her qualifications.

While at University, she took a break and travelled extensively through Europe so has seen a little of the world.

In order to save funds for travel, she demonstrated a work ethic and discipline that will serve her well in to the future.   

Her problem; she doesn’t know what sort of work she wants to do.

She may be making use of her qualifications with what she is doing now, but it is repetitive, boring, unfulfilling and apart from filling a space on her C/v it is not a step to anything she claims to be interested in.

In talking to her, I quickly felt she was working in her field of qualification because that is what she is expected to do.

To most of my questions she answered “I just don’t know” so I changed the tone and delved a little deeper.  

I posed a closed question – “You don’t want to have anything to do with accounting do you”?

“No, I hate it and did from day 6 at University”. She enjoyed orientation week.
She went on to say she feels trapped in accounting.

I put it to her that everyone really does know what they want to do but do not feel empowered to say so. I gave her personal examples of what I wanted to do at the same age however at the time, I kept it to myself.

I turned the situation around, saying:

“Tell me what it is you really want to do and we will work together to make it happen”.

She knew precisely what she wanted to do and articulated this with intensity and passion. Her eyes lit up, her voice strengthened and rate of speaking increased. We discussed it further over the next hour and began to determine the barriers that need to be overcome to make it happen.

We have more to do

She knows precisely what she wants to do but until she could see past the question and envisage a road to achieving her goal occupation, she was reluctant to say what it is.

When really seeking to help someone find a way forward, our questions are often aimed at giving us what we want and not at providing a path forward for the person, family member or work colleague we are claiming to want to help.

As we wound up, she commented “what if we map all this out, do it and it still doesn’t happen”.

“That’s easy” I said “You will be happy and content knowing you gave it a proper chance.”  

I have no idea what the outcome of our deliberations will be.

I do know that simply asking the question “what do you want to do” will often bare no result, or at least no meaning or no true result.

What do you want to do and how will you make it happen?

It’s easy, isn’t it?

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