Almost two decades ago, I experienced two turning points in my professional life. As I look back, I wonder why it took fifteen years in the workforce for the lessons to sink in. By that time, the lessons had been with me for some time. The question of why lingers as I try to help others around me discover the same turning points in their lives.
My first defining moment was a gentle reprimand from my boss at the time about process. “Why do you want to reinvent the solution each time you need it? Why not define it as a process? You can use it, educate others with it, and always have it in your back pocket.”
It was a good question! Today I hear his words with deeper meaning. “Use what life gives you, learn. Capture your learning and share it in a way that others can use and share it. Tell me about the model and the processes within it.”
The second defining moment came with the same boss just a few weeks later. As I talked about my learning and how I thought it could be described in a model, he asked another question. “Why are you starting with where you are? What happens when you start and end with the client?”
The question stopped my thinking. I could not think of a single reason for why I was starting where I was except that of convenience. Even as I listened to the echo about the client, I knew I would never look at a question or opportunity in the same way again. If you want to help, start with the other, not yourself.
A series of questions, asked during the same period of my life by one I consider a teacher and mentor embedded a new way of thinking into my being. If I had to explain what happened to the purged ideas and thoughts I would have used David’s words. “You purge the earth of their progeny, you wipe the slate clean.” (Psalm 21.10)
Truth-filled questions changed my life. Thank-you.