Here's a simple truth I've learned: Asking yourself the right question can be life-changing. This is especially the case when it comes to our careers and if we experience the dreaded mid-career slump.
In the hundreds of speeches and trainings I've given and facilitated all across the world, there's one question I ask that consistently stops people in their tracks.
This question gives them pause and pushes them to evaluate not only their career, but also their life. The choices they made and the choices they didn't make.
This is a question that doesn't care about culture, language, borders, or even faith. It's a straightforward question and it pulls no punches.
It's a question that gets to the core of what it means to be the best version of yourself in your work. And the truth, sometimes the answer will hurt.
This is a question that could determine if you're at risk of being firedfrom your job in the future. Here's the simple, yet, challenging question:
Based on your last 30 days of work, if your company had to make a decision to rehire you, would they immediately do so? Or, would they have doubts to hire you again?
Now, be honest with yourself, and really think about your last 30 days on the job. Based on those last 30 days, would you get a firm vote of confidence and commitment from your company and your manager?
When I ask this question during my talks and trainings, typically the room goes silent. A concerned look comes over people's faces. I hear uncomfortable laughter. People who previously were making eye contact with me stare at the floor.
I'm sure this is because like all of us, these people have a sinking feeling that based on their last 30 days, they hadn't really been putting their best foot forward at work. They think about all of the excitement that had when they landed their current job and how it has transitioned to indifference.
The great thing about this question is that it isn't a judgment about your past. It's actually an opportunity to hit the 'reset' button for the present and future. An opportunity to reevaluate our behavior and how we choose to show up for those people with whom we've committed our professional time, energy and effort.
I emphasize 'choose' here because it's important to recognize that yes, there will be days where you are not the best version of yourself. But, you do have a choice. It's a choice to show up for the people and things we say matter most, rather than paying lip service to them or putting them on hold for "later."
If you've lost focus get clear on your responsibilities. Ensure you understand what's most important today, this week, this month, and this year for your role. If you've stopped learning, get back in the classroom. If you've stopped building relationships, get some coffee meetings on the calendar. If you're stopped speaking up in meetings, find the courage to contribute more than you did yesterday.
My hope is that 30 days from now, if someone were to ask you, "Based on your last 30 days of work, if your company had to make a decision to rehire you, would they immediately do so?" that you could immediately answer, "Absolutely!"
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