One of the questions I enjoy asking guests on Life in the Leadership Lane podcast is “what would your 10-year older self say to you if he or she was knocking at the door today and you got up to answer that door”? This is such a great reflection question because it allows you to look ahead and think about where you are going, dream ahead, or give your current situation perspective. One of my favorites was when I was interviewing Global Total Reward Leader Andrew Walker on podcast episode 84. When I asked Andrew this question, he responded with “buy a boat” (these are my words). He said his 10-year-old self would say, “stop thinking about when you’re done working in your career and find things that bring you joy today”. He shared how he would visit summer beaches in Connecticut and would see boats going back and forth and thought I am not going to wait until I retire to enjoy life. He then went on to say, “Yes, we all need to work hard, but we also need to find things that bring us joy.” This was so inspiring!
I have received many responses from guests over the pasts two years that have shared things that energized them just like Andrew. I have also paused when people stopped to reflect and found themselves crying tears of gratitude. It can be a deep reflecting point for anyone. Many guests have shared their 10-year older self would say stop worrying, or remind them it’s going to be okay. A few have shared to continue the journey, keep the faith, or you’re on the right path, and to keep growing.
It’s a great question and would be a great team exercise too. The reason it’s so powerful is because it is often the little things, we do each day that brings the most movement and change. But because it’s so little, it’s hard to see positive daily results. We often can’t see that we are making progress or impact when we get up early to go for a run, or read a few pages in a book or help a colleague or customer solve a problem. When we ask this question, it gets people to think about their career, and more importantly their life. Are you doing things in your life that bring you joy?
As we move into the Christmas holiday and business planning season, invest time to reflect on this question. What will your 10-year older self-share with you? Who do you want to be in 10 years? Are you on track in your career? In my new book “Life in the Leadership Lane” , I shared my response… “I think my 10-year older self would tell me that he is proud of the person I have become in the workplace and most importantly, in my personal life. He would also say, “Keep going, keep growing, keep connecting, and keep serving others. You have important work ahead.”
So, what’s your boat? What is the thing that will bring you joy in your career, in the workplace, in your life? Are you on track? You may already have it and people just need to hear it… I am excited for you, for your organization, and your journey because when we have joy in our career, life is just better in every area – especially in serving others!
Quote of the Day: “…it’s not about the things we want to achieve, it’s about the person we want to be.” (Excerpt from Life in the Leadership Lane)
Call to Action: Write down the question, and response for yourself. Then go ask your team members what their 10 year older self would say. It’s a great way to get to know them more. Consider making this a team exercise. It just might inspire someone to make a change, which can ultimately change the organization too!
This is “Move to Inspire” with Bruce Waller! For more information, call