LetÍs play “What If…” With Your Career

If I’m trying to decide whether to pour
our company’s resources into new area, I ask myself, “What if the competition put its money into this first? Would I feel relief or regret?”
If I’m wavering about hiring someone, I think, “What if someone else offered this person job? Would I let him or her get away?”
Thinking in hypotheticals sharpens your mind and disciplines you to approach problems from unusual angles.
The approach is also useful on personal basis, particularly when you feel you need to reassess your career.
I know if I were at some sort of impasse in my job, I would be madly constructing “what if..” questions to determine where I really stood in the organisation and how I felt about it. The following nine hypotheticals would be good place to start.

1. If you could have anyone’s job at your company, which one would you take?
I can’t think of better litmus test for gauging your ambition. If you want the CEO’s job, that says something about how high you’re aiming in your career. If you merely want your boss’ job, that says something too. If you’re happy where you are, I salute your good fortune. On the other hand, if you don’t want anyone’s job, you might want to reconsider what you’re doing showing up at work each day.

2. If you could work for anyone in your organisation, who would it be?
If your answer is someone other than your current boss, how will you change the situation?
3. If you could eliminate the most time-consuming part of your job, would you miss it?
This is the most accurate way to measure your on-the-job satisfaction. If you would honestly miss doing your main job, you are at least properly employed. If the opposite is true, both you and the company are suffering.

4. If you could erase your biggest flaw, would anyone notice?
This is good test for eliminating some of your personal insecurities. If you can honestly say no one would notice or care that you somehow corrected major personal failing, how big flaw can it be?

5. If you lost your biggest personal asset in business, would anyone care?
This is the converse of the previous question. It’s good indicator that you may be overestimating your contribution to the organisation. If no one noticed or cared that you lost your main business talent, how valuable can it really be to the company?

6. If the company published depth chart for your department (or the entire organisation) what line would your name be on?
This hypothetical is like truth serum about your future. It also begs at least two other questions: How has your position changed in the last year or two? Who leaped over you and whom did you pass?
If your position hasn’t changed, that doesn’t bode well for your prospects for advancement. And if other people have forged ahead of you, that bodes even less well.

7. If you could assemble board of directors to guide and advise you, who would be on it?
The more important question is the follow up. Once you’ve assembled the list, how many of these people are you consulting on regular basis? If nothing else, you’ll learn whether you’re taking advantage of the collective wisdom of the people who know you and care about you.
Then there’s the other obvious follow up: What do you think this board would be telling you?

8. If you were publicly traded company, what price would you be quoting for your stock?
Would it be at an all-time high or low? More important, would you be buying, holding, or selling?

9. If you were offered your job today, would you still take it?
This is the ultimate reality check for people in career crisis. If the answer is no, you need to start thinking in terms other than “what ife”

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