Yesterday I was feeling that some of the activities in my business were not working as smoothly as I would have liked. I was coming home from a trip out of town and instead of feeling “charged up” I was feeling exhausted. I know that when I feel this way something isn’t quite right. As I was talking to my wife about this situation, I was reminded of an exercise I sometimes offer in the leadership courses I teach. It is called, “What would you do if you just won the lottery?”.
In this exercise, each person is asked to consider what work they would be doing if they won the lottery. In probing the answer to this question, participants are asked, “would you continue what you are doing today?”. Not surprisingly, many people answer, “No”. Now, I don’t stop the exercise there. It would be almost cruel to leave people hanging. The next question is, “If there were no restrictions on what you could do (money, time, what other people think, etc.) what would you love to do?”. If people are having a difficult time in answering this question, I ask, “when you think back on your life, what have been the times you were most excited in your work or you felt the most proud of?” As people answer that question, I can feel them come alive.
I decided it was a good time for me to review this exercise to see if I could get a bit of insight into how I was feeling. Well, did I ever! I was immediately flooded with answers that I didn’t like. If I won the lottery, I would change the way that I work. I am involved in a number of projects that do not fit with what I love, which is to teach. I would eliminate all the projects that don’t have teaching as a primary element. With this insight, I immediately began the process of redesigning all my work. I remembered that there is nothing that I can’t change, and nothing I can’t create. By the end of the day, I was clear headed and feeling a rush of energy that I haven’t felt in a while. I also saw a number of new opportunities that would expand the reach of our work without very little time or other resources involved. All in all, a great outcome from answering a few simple questions.
Are you feeling that your work isn’t all it could be? If so, I invite you to use this exercise and see what happens. I would love to hear from you about what you discover, and any questions you may have.