There are two key questions to ensure that what you are doing will create meaning and joy for your life. Importantly, they are questions that you should have a generous listener ask you rather than mull over on your own.
Here are the questions:
1. “What are your hopes for your talent?” This open-ended question sparks the creative dimensions of our brains. As the poet Tracy K. Smith notes, “Hope is an idea with an engine.”
There are many things that people can do. What they really want to do will power them to true success.
2. “Why are your hopes important to you?” Many seductions – what others have done to be successful – lure us away from our true hopes. It takes some real digging to get to bedrock of what’s truly motivating and fulfilling for us. The good news is that the digging is worth it. We observe that each time people go deeper into why their hopes are important to them the opportunities to fulfill their hopes multiply by a factor of ten.
Here are the reasons why it’s valuable to have a generous listener ask these questions and reflect back what’s said:
* On weighty questions like these, people often talk to figure out what they think. When someone listens without a personal agenda and reflects back what’s said, the speaker literally hears how the ideas sound.
* A generous listener also can hear where the speaker has strong energy and excitement compared with something that the speaker said because it’s what she or he “should” say.
* It’s much faster to get to what is deeply meaningful. Across thousands of people in these conversations, participants note that they discover a depth of meaning for themselves in minutes that it would have taken hours, if at all, to reach on their own. With all of the editing that people do in their heads, they often miss what’s important to them.
* Finally, stating answers to these questions to someone else creates a deeper level of personal commitment than if the result were unstated or merely written.
These questions begin what we call a Talent Catalyst Conversation. It’s a conversation that people can complete in less than hour to launch themselves on a path to authentic meaning in their lives. The research basis for the points above and stories of people putting them into practice appear in “Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life.”