A few weeks ago, I had a moment of professional enlightenment prompted by a really, really, really good question. I’m pretty sure it’s the best question ever.
“What would you be if you knew you could be the absolute best at it?”
This question turned my world a little upside down because it challenged me in a way I’ve never been challenged before.
I’ve been motivated to action many times by the famous question, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” In fact, this question helped lead to the launch of my business over a decade ago. My wife even bought me a paperweight inscribed with that question because it had empowered me so much. (I do find it ironic, though, that a quote intended to set you free is inscribed on an item intended to hold things down. Who’s brilliant idea was that?)
As much as I love that old question, this new question is better. It takes the challenge to a whole new level. It pushes you beyond simply thinking about what you might want to TRY and forces you to think about what you could really BE. It changes the game from practicing on the playground to playing in the pros.
I believe the question forces you to discover (or simply admit) your true passion and possibility. Answered honestly, it will state exactly how you can make the biggest difference in the world.
Yes, you do have to be slightly realistic. If you’re 46 years old with a long history of knee surgery, you probably missed your window to become the best player in the NBA. But there is something else you have the potential to be the best in the world at, of that I’m sure.
Asking this question will very likely make you think bigger than you’ve ever thought before. It will also very likely cause many of the same feelings you experience at the top of an insanely tall roller coaster: sweaty palms, increased heart rate, wet pants (hopefully not this last one, but I can’t promise anything).
A word of warning: answering the question is like putting your initials in the box on the contract that states “I hereby swear to pursue this calling or the Universe will kick my ass.” You’ll have to very quickly start overcoming the fears, worries, stresses, and obstacles between you and your new goal. Or live out your life knowing you didn’t do what you really coulda/shoulda done. Your choice. Harsh, I know.
The good news is that once the answer is clear and compelling, the obstacles have a hard time keeping up. They’re still there, but somehow they don’t seem as scary or difficult. That’s because the biggest obstacle — not knowing or not admitting what the answer is — is removed instantly when you answer the question truthfully.
The other good news is that you probably already know the answer. You just haven’t had the courage to admit it. It’s ok to have some fear. This is a big deal we’re talking about. And as writer Po Bronson says, “The absence of fear is not courage; the absence of fear is mental illness.” If fear is in your way, here’s my advice: don’t let fear stop you any longer. I have no advice for you if you’re mentally ill.
So what was my answer to the best question ever? What would I be if I knew I could be the absolute best at it?
I’d be the absolute best writer and speaker on topics that help businesses and individuals become amazing at what they do. Whew! There, I said it out loud.
If you know me or follow my writing, you might be thinking, “Isn’t that what you already do?” And the answer is “Kinda.” I’ve been a writer and speaker for quite a while. The weird thing is that I’ve always been afraid to admit that’s what I could be the absolute best at, even though I think I’ve known it all along. So I’ve never really committed to it. And I’ve used a thousand different excuses to not own up to this calling and pursue it with relentless passion. In all honesty, I’ve been a big pansy.
My main excuse has been that I have a business to run and I don’t really have enough time to be the absolute best writer and speaker that I know I could be. I’ve let that excuse hold me back long enough! So my main job now is to re-shape my business to run differently. That means putting some talented people in place for sure. It also means letting go of some products, duties, and projects that I’ve been holding onto for way to long. All of this change is a little scary for me, but not as scary as it was two weeks ago. Clarity and commitment combined is an amazingly powerful antidote to the paralyzing effects of fear.
So, now that I’ve honestly and truthfully answered the question, guess I gotta start writing that book, huh? I don’t want the Universe to kick my you-know-what. If I’m going to eventually be the best, I’d better get going right now.
I am dying to hear how you answer the question. Would you think about it, answer it, and email me or leave a comment here after this article with your answer? You can comment on the article itself, too, if you’d like.