One of the heaviest and most recurring questions we ask ourselves throughout our lives and careers is probably the question of “where do I see myself _______?” (fill the blank with “next” or “in X years from now”). As a matter of fact, many folks ask that during job interviews.
And while I don’t want to argue over whether it’s a good/bad thing to ask, I certainly want to provide a new/different way to think about this idea of “where do I see myself.”
I was writing "thank you” cards this week and to one friend I wrote “thanks for seeing more in me than I see sometimes see myself.” That person has always been someone who believed in my potential and pushed me with the right questions (why are you doing X?) as well as suggestions (have you considered Y?). And frankly speaking, I loved thanking the person for that because it has always been so extremely valuable to me to hear his thoughts.
So I kept thinking about this situation and I realized that it’s a question we only ask ourselves. Like 99.9% of the time that we ask this question, we ask ourselves and not others. And what happens is that we struggle to find clear answers because we are stuck in our own rivers of thinking. We are in our own “box” and don’t get a chance to have a perspective on it from the outside. Yet if we ask that question to someone else, we have the opportunity to actually get a stimulus, a perspective, an idea that we haven’t considered ourselves as we were exploring every corner of this box we are stuck in.
This is why I think it’s important to reverse this question. Instead of only asking ourselves where we see ourselves, we need to be asking others where they see us. What I have started to do is to ask five of my closest friends – folks who know me very well – to take some time and let me know over the break where they see me. What they see me doing and what they think I’m good at.
I feel I could ask myself that question over and over again, but once I ask someone is close to me and understands me well, I get the opportunity to get a new perspective on the same issue. A stimulus, an input that could be game-changing with regards to my thinking. Of course, the decision is still mine, but a new perspective can help in the decision-making process.
With that, I’d encourage you to start asking others about where they see you as opposed to just wondering yourself what the answer to that question is…