I'm a big Seth Godin fan. Today, his blog asks, What are 10 question for work that matters? (I stumbled over this sentence at first - try this one: For work that matters, here are 10 questions to ask.) He notes at the bottom of the blog that "Any question that's difficult to answer deserves more thought. Any answers that are meandering, nuanced or complex are probably a symptom of something important."
I've answered the question that jumped out at me today. My thoughts are below. (Oh, and by the way, he actually lists 11 questions! Bonus!)
1) What are you doing that's difficult?
2) What are you doing that people believe only you can do?
3) Who are you connecting?
4) What do people say when they talk about you?
5) What are you afraid of?
6) What's the scarce resource?
7) Who are you trying to change?
I had to do a double-take with this question. I thought it was notable that he asks, "Who" are you trying to change, vs. "What" are you trying to change. I sort of cringe at the idea of trying to change people. It feels manipulative, presumptuous, and sort of creepy. Do I want anyone else out there thinking about how they can change me? No.
The best work - and best relationships - I've been a part of are based on mutual respect, and the idea that the best way to serve or love another person is to support them in reaching their potential - but, as they define it, not as I might. But, is this always true? Is it realistic? Have I, deep down, actually wanted to / attempted to change other people around me? I'm even thinking about my role as a parent; do I think about trying to "change" my kids?
I genuinely believe that the best stuff happens if the only time we ever try to change someone is when we are trying to change ourselves for the better. I have an ever-present list of self-improvement goals, and I like it that way - that my energies are directed at what I can do better, not what someone else should do differently.
I do want to inspire people. And I have beliefs and opinions on what sorts of things bring happiness, fulfillment, and meaning to a person's life, in general. But at the end of the day I want to ask the question, Who am I trying to serve? or How can I support you to grow, in the ways you've decided to grow? instead How can I change you?
8) What does the change look like?
9) Would we miss your work if you stopped making it?
10) What do you stand for?
11) What contribution are you making?