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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

Part 2: You Are Here

A map is useless if you don’t know where you’re currently located. The questions in this blog, the second in a six-part series on “30 Questions to Discover Your True North,” are designed to help you determine where you are at this moment. Once you know where you stand, the path to your True North will be much clearer. Answer each question honestly and thoughtfully. Don’t get discouraged, and remember: where you are today is not where you’ll be tomorrow. The question is, are you moving forward or crawling back?

1. If you accomplish one thing by the end of the year, what would make the biggest impact on your happiness?

The year is almost halfway over. What could you do in the next six months that would make you the most happy? This doesn’t have to be work-related; maybe 2015 is the year you finally lose that college weight you put on 20 years ago, or you commit to a significant other. Perhaps there’s a certification you’ve always wanted, or you take the first steps towards going back to school. On New Year’s Day in 2016, what will you look back on and say, “I’m really glad I did that”?

2. What do you love most about your current job? What do you wish you could do more of?

If your answer to the first question is “money,” try harder. Even the worst jobs have aspects you love (or at least like). Maybe it’s a specific task or project you enjoyed working on, or you like your coworkers or the corporate culture. Keep this in mind as you develop your goals and seek your True North. The second half of this question is about the responsibilities and tasks you enjoy the most. Some people really like to network with others. You may long for those days where you tuck yourself away in your office and write code or crunch numbers. Since these tasks are already part of your job description, tell your superior how much you enjoy them, and seek out ways to take a bigger role in those activities.

3. List your core values. Use your company’s mission statement to list its core values. Do they match up?

What are your core values? What do you care about most, both in your personal life and in business? Think about your own personal “mantra” to help you figure out your values. Are you more of an “honesty is the best policy” type of person, or do you believe “the end justifies the means”? Honestly assess your priorities – if prestige, ambition, and opportunity for advancement are important to you, that’s okay. Acknowledge it and seek out a job where you can find those things. You’ll be happier than if you try to pretend you don’t care about them. Whatever your values are, look for a company that is in alignment with your vision.

4. List the five people you interact with most frequently. How is each helping you to reach your goals (or not)?

These five people may not necessarily be those we typically think of as the most important in our lives. Focus on who you interact with, not whose advice you value or who you care about the most. Who do you communicate with frequently? These are the people that will have a serious impact on your frame of mind and attitude. If you consistently have to deal with someone you dislike, that will affect your mood. After you’ve listed these five people, think about how they might be influencing you. Is each a positive force in your life?

5. What in your life is “on hold”?

We all have that goal in life that we’re going to get to… eventually. You think, “Once I do this, then I’ll start working on that goal.” You’d love to write a book, but you’re putting that on hold until you retire. You’d love to run a half marathon, but that’s on hold until you lose weight. There will always be an excuse not to do something. If these goals are important to you, don’t wait until tomorrow; start now! Don’t restrict yourself with imaginary chains. You can do what you love today – you just have to make it a priority.

For more thought-provoking questions, read my blog on 30 Questions to Help You Discover Your True North. In my next blog, I’ll discuss goal-setting for the future.