What do you want to do?

One of my favorite coaching questions.

Some clients fill our sessions with a detailed inventory of what they heard in the break room, what their friends say they should and shouldn’t do, myths about how to get promoted, myths about who gets promoted, myths about the next step to take, business school dos and don’ts. And my favorite, you’re unhappy? But WHY would anyone leave Google? It’s Google!

Subject Object theory talks about where your locus of control is. Are you run by others? A prisoner of external influences? Titles, levels, salary sizes, the opinions of your friends? Outer perceptions? This is a condition where you are subject to outside forces. Or are you run by your internal voice? Your own wants and needs, your own opinion in the crowd? Can you see the difference between them and yourself? When you gain distance and have perspective, you can hold your challenge like an object – you can hold it, move it around, look at it from all angles. This is a condition where the challenge is object, and you are not controlled by it.

Do you remember when you first formed your own opinion? I do. I remember exactly that moment of self-determination. Like when the robots woke up. I was eight years old. Home life was volatile and neglectful. I didn’t always have clean hair or clean clothes and most of my front baby teeth were extracted years ago due to bottle rot.

At eight, I decided I would wake up, get ready for school, and brush my own teeth every morning. I would take care of myself. I wasn’t sad or mad. I remember it vividly. I was determined.

Next time you list all the reasons others have given you, all of the water cooler assumptions, myths and stories, all of the hallway rumors, ask yourself this very simple and crucial question – what do you want to do? Keep asking until you answer back.