Monday, January 18, 2016

The Question I Hated Most

Have you ever had that friend who always cut through your fluff to the real point you may not have wanted to face? That person who always surprised you with the question you couldn't bluff your way through?

I worked with someone like that for a few really great years, at a pivotal time in my career. This guy had already been where I was and done what I was doing, and now worked in a support role where his mentorship was free for the taking.

This guy had a way of listening to everything from my grievances to my pipe dreams, and then handing it all back to me with full respect, total validation of my feelings, and yet a complete refusal to let me believe any of it belonged to anyone in the world but me.

And I never stopped coming back for more.

Of everything my friend said to me, there is one conversation that haunts me more than any other:  I was deep into my usual routine of imagining something bigger and better in my career, the next step, the next job, whatever my current position was preparing me for.

My friend had heard all this before, but this time replied that, in his mind, no discussion of the "next job" was really fair without asking yourself, "What am I doing with the one I have?"

I had no answer for this question.

Don't get me wrong; I wasn't a poor leader, or doing anything resembling a bad job where I was, and my friend wasn't claiming anything of the sort. But was I actively stretching my capacity in order to prepare for the next step while doing my everyday job? I assumed so, but could I say so with confidence, and defend the claim?

What am I doing with the (fill in the blank) I have? 

I still hate that question, but I find myself learning to accept it, ten-ish years after hearing it posed to me for the first time. There is so much wrapped up in that short question, such a "Parable of the Talents" quality to it, and no one around to hand any of it off to. It belongs to you, no matter what it is you're talking about. 

This question goes nowhere. 

It stops with you.

If you want something better, what are you doing with the something you already have? 

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