Ask One Question to Help You Set Your Priorities

Career DevelopmentPersonal Branding
Time Management

Warning: This will come across as harsh.

Being that this is the graduation season this might be the most critical nugget you (or someone you know) needs to put their career on the right path. By asking The One Question you may be able to set your career on the perfect trajectory. But, at what cost?

By cost I am referring the the nature of being a generalist or a specialist. While they are not perfectly correlated I have noticed that specialists are being rewarded within today’s business environment and it’s why I wrote The Rise of the Specialist.

Am I right? I want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments. If I’m completely off base tell me. Ok?

I’m noticing a trend in people I work with these days. While it’s true I have worked with and continue to work with people in the tech industry I’m pretty sure this One Question mentality is pervasive across almost every industry. People are being rewarded for focusing on a specific set of deliverables … and nothing more.

My observation is that people are being dissuaded (aka punished) for being more curious and seeking a more generalist point of view.

After reading through this and thinking about it take 60 seconds and consider:

  • Does this model work for you?
  • Does it make sense to you?
  • Is it career limiting? (or expanding?)

The Solution is The One Question

Ask yourself … What do I get paid to do?

That’s it. One simple question.

Whether you are starting a career or 20 years into a career this one question may be a hard question to ask and perhaps an even harder question to answer.

My recommendation for success:

Focus On The One Question

I’ve seen so many people narrow-cast their interests to focus explicitly and exclusively on the very narrow and specific tasks they have been assigned that I have come to realize that this is a trend. And, it’s why I wrote this post.

What gets measured gets done!

This statement — What Gets Measures Gets Done — has been attributed to a lot of people over the years. The first time I heard it was at a Tom Peters event. So, for me … this is a Tom’ism.

And, Tom is right. If you want to succeed (at least in todays business climate) …

Ask yourself … The One Question.

Ask yourself … What do I get paid to do?

If you don’t know the answer … re-read your job description. Ask your peers. And, ask your boss.

Then focus, focus, focus on whatever it is you get paid to do.

When you can do this you will stand out in your career and people will begin to recognize you for your ability to execute. I think it remains to be seen if this level of extreme specialization is just a trendline or those that practice it so religiously can be promoted to higher levels within the organization. Where those higher levels often require and expect people to be more generalized in their approach to managing people, processes and technology.

Time will tell.

But, no matter what you do or where you are within your career take the time to ask yourself … The One Question.