Do you remember when you were a young child at school and you were asked what you would like to become when you grow up?
I don’t know what your answer was, but whatever you said, did you actually make it?
When we are young we don’t really know what it means to be a fireman, a train driver, a teacher or any other job for that matter. We just have something in our head, some sort of a story that sounds really cool and we go with it.
As we grow up life starts to happen. We start developing our fears, our restrictions and we put ourselves in some sort of a box which puts a label on who we are and what we can do.
If what we decided to become as a child doesn’t fit into this box we most likely never make it.
I don’t really know why we’re asking this question to young children in the first place. Maybe it is more for the pleasure of the parents than for the children. I don’t really know. (Ohhh, my child wants to live on Mars, I am so proud!!!!)
What I do know is that this kind of question is the wrong question to ask.
Lets say you really want to become a train driver as a child, but when you grow up you realise that it isn’t really for you and you would never make the kind of money you would like to make. It might even be that there are no train drivers anymore because technology has taken over that job.
I personally think these kind of questions don’t make any sense. They are far to fixed and restrictive and based on so many changing factors.
What kind of questions should we ask?
A few years ago I met a teacher at a local school who completely changed the way I think about questions. He asked the children following question:
What problems would you like to solve when you grow up?
The reaction from the young children was amazing. They started talking about the problems they face in their life and how they would solve it. The solutions weren’t single jobs, but a whole bunch of actions and ideas. There was something for everyone.
Isn’t it funny how asking a different questions puts a very different aspect to the same thing. If you think about your work, your job or your business, ask yourself:
What problem do I solve?
If you want to do something else, stop asking what to do. Instead ask: “What problem do I want to solve?”
It opens up so many options and possibilities how this could be done. They are only limited by your skills and talents and not by some box that was defined by someone else (or yourself for that matter). And your skills are not limited by what you know now because you can learn anything you want to learn.
The point is to look for a cause and not for a job.
By changing the question to the impact you want to make instead of actions limited by some box (a job description), you open yourself up to new opportunities and new solutions.
What problem do you want to solve?