“Find a partner and sit facing one another.” We’d heard that same guidance throughout the week. About 400 people, including yours truly, stood up and started shuffling around the enormous ballroom. We sought partners in the open space between the dais where our host, a world-renowned, high-performance trainer stood and tables in the back occupied by his team of assistants.
This was almost a decade ago. I was taking a year off from work (and if you’ve never done that, I highly recommend it.) It was August in Arizona at a swank resort hotel (it had an "Aroma Garden" for crying out loud!) and was air-conditioned to perfection.
A lot of things are marketed as “life-changing.” This delivered.
Little did I know, this week would end up being a turning point demarcating one part of my life from the next.
Most of what we did that week was designed to help us get out of our own way and let go of whatever we were dragging around.
Good Lord, who couldn't use a big helping of that? (Can I have more please, Sir?) My newfound partner and I settled into identical hotel chairs, face-to-face, our knees a few inches apart. Our mission was simple. For three minutes, Partner A asked one question to Partner B.
The same question, repeating over and over and over and over. I’m talking 20 or 30 times. Every time, I had to give a different answer to the same question.
You with me? Imagine a Russian nesting doll, but the doll is you and you keep opening them and opening them. Every time it's you again, but it’s a "you" that's been nested deep and not opened for a while.
The same, but different.
Those dolls were popular for a reason.
They're us, aren't they?
Always there. You know there's more to them than meets the eye, but very seldom do you bother to go through the process of un-nesting them.
Is it because you think you know what you'll find?
Are you wondering what the questions is? What do you want? What do you want? What do you want? What to you want? What do you want? What do you … Asked slowly and calmly. What do you want? Imagine a rose petal falling to the ground. What do you want? Waves hitting the beach.
What do you want? A golden leaf spinning and see-sawing to the ground.
What do you want? As the answering party, you're honor-bound to say the first thing that comes to mind. (Yeah, trust is a thing here.) You might start with “I want 10 million dollars.” “I want to be a size 6.” “I want to be debt free.” "I want a ski house in Tahoe." "I want to be 18 again." "I want a promotion."
When the big, front-of-mind-issues, whatever they are for you, come off the top, you'll be surprised by what's inside.
By the 10th time you're asked "What do you want?" you've tapped into some kind of mental vault, where you discover you've stored some surprisingly high-value data about yourself.
That day, with Partner A, I realized I had a lot of answers, but had not been asking the right question.
A really simple one as it turns out, and one I thought I knew the answer to until asked 20 times in succession and I was expected to put just a little thought into it. If you have a partner and an egg timer. Go for it. You can do it alone with a piece of paper, too.
Set a timer for three minutes and commit to filling 30 lines.
Keep writing and put what comes into mind on the paper. The trick is to commit.
It's actually fun. I laughed quite a few times doing this and so did my partner. What do you want? Stay away from what's "realistic" and the "how." Instant buzz-kill.
Forget all that. All you have to do in this exercise is say (or write) what you want. Guiltlessly.
I'm in the business of helping you get the job and career you want.
If you want a job that makes you smile and feel alive while simultaneously making your bank balance numbers rise and your credit balance numbers drop, what I want is for you to join me in Job Hunt School. But not so fast ...
As that high performance coach told us on day one of my air-conditioned-demarcation-feel-good-about-yourself-week, "Don’t make big decisions fast." Very good advice, I'd say.
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