Asking the Right Questions
My friend Paul used to start some of our conversations by asking, “So what am I supposed to do for the rest of my life?” It was his joking way of recognizing we could find only some of the answers he sought through our work together and that I was never going to give him simplistic, prescriptive answers to extremely complex questions.
I’m often intrigued by how often people come to me expecting some massive revelation or epiphany about their career path that will forever put to rest their search for fit in life. It's as if they want to deny something they already know – that a life’s Calling is deeper and more profound than simply finding the right job. There is something greater to us than our work, something that longs to know that the things to which we gave our energies were of great consequence in the world.
I’ve worked with hundreds of people to help them find their best fit in a career or job and I think I do a good job, but I’m not deceived about my abilities. The answers to the great questions, “Why am I here?”, “Does my life really matter?”, and “What is my purpose in this world?” can't be fully found in the Career Coaching process. In fact, I suspect that my most successful clients, if asked, would tell me the information they discovered in the process was incredibly useful and resolved many of their career and life questions, but was insufficient to answer the great questions.
To answer the great questions we have to know what questions to ask and how and whom to ask them or we will find ourselves receiving insufficient, frustrating, and too often misleading direction through life. In the film I Robot Detective Del Spooner (played by Will Smith) thinks he is solving a murder, but he's actually pursuing several truths about himself and his world. As he interrogates a holographic image of murder victim he is frustrated by the projection’s repeated answer, "My responses are limited... You must ask the right question."
The information we discover in the Career Coaching process is important, perhaps even essential. “How are you gifted?”, “What are your strengths?”, “What are your life goals and priorities?”, and “What do these tell us about the jobs that fit you?” will all provide powerful clues to help you understand your calling, but they aren’t sufficient to reveal the whole truth of who you are and what you’re here for.
So, what are the other questions you need to ask and where should you be looking for those answers?