“The clearer you are about the kinds of tasks you most enjoy, the more you’ll see – and seek – them.” — Misti Burmeister

Simon Sinek, bestselling author of Start with Why, says, “If you don’t know people, you don’t know business.” I’ll take this idea to another level and say, “If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know people.”

Several years ago, while speaking in Madison, Wisconsin, a woman in my audience stood up and said, “I don’t care about developing the next generation of leaders because if I do, they’ll take my job.” 

You could hear a pin drop when she said that, but I could imagine she wasn’t the only one in that room who felt that way, so I asked,

 “Do you care about the long-term success of your company?”

“Yes, I’ve been with the company for more than 20 years – I’d love to see its continued success.”

“Okay, great,” I said. Then I asked, “What’s your three-year plan?” 

“I don’t have one.” 

“What’s your six-month plan?” 

“To get through the next six months.” 

“How can you possibly be excited to share what you know with others if you don’t have a plan in place for yourself?” I asked.

“How do I create a plan?”

Just as the best companies are selfish in their selection process when hiring, talented people should be selfish in their pursuit of their careers. 

Imagine the increased level of productivity and personal ownership if everyone selfishly chose the career path they wanted, verses the one they thought they should follow. 

You might discover opportunities sitting right under your nose just by asking yourself three “selfish” questions: 

1)    What tasks do you most enjoy at work? Why?

2)    If you could have any experience (job-related or otherwise), what would it be? Why?

3)    If you could find your way into any position, what would it be?

Bonus question: To get even more specific, if you could gain any new skills, what would they be? Why?

If I tell you not to think of a pink lizard, what’s the first thing you do? You picture a pink lizard, of course. The same psychological rule applies when considering the direction of your career. 

The clearer you are about the kinds of tasks you most enjoy, the more you’ll see – and seek – them. You do, indeed, find what you’re looking for. The more you search, the more you find. So, consider answering these same questions every month for the rest of this year and see just how far a healthy dose of selfishness will take you. 

Join the conversation: How do you keep yourself (and your team) focused on doing meaningful work?

Thanks to Gillycuddy and Dexter Britian for their music contribution and LN Lurie for her podcast production work.

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