Have you ever felt like you were out of place? That where you are, isn’t where you’re supposed to be?
I was talking with someone the other day, and he made a statement that really connected with me. He’s got a successful and fulfilling career. But that day he confessed that lately he’d had the sense that something was missing. He said to me, “I just feel like there’s something more for me to do. Not exactly that I’m meant for more, but like I’ve got more to give.” Then he asked, “How do I know when it’s time for me to move on?”
That’s such an important question. Looking back over my four decades of leadership, I can see that my sense of having more to give played a key role in many of my career choices. Every career transition was triggered by a desire to give more. And the new position that followed definitely offered the opportunity to grow and expand my impact.
But – and this is a big but – not every impulse to give more, or do more, or be more, was followed by a career transition. Many times, what followed instead was a passion for increased impact where I already was. How did I know when to stay, and when to move on?
I believe that one question can be answered by asking yourself a few others. Questions that force you to look inward. After all, if what you’re feeling is that you don’t fit your current role, then the first step is to examine yourself, not the role. That’s what I told my friend. And if you’re in a similar situation, that’s what I want to share with you. Here are the four questions I encouraged my friend to answer:
1. Am I Currently Exceeding Expectations?
This may seem like a strange question to start with, but it’s actually the most crucial. Before you start looking for other places to give more, make sure you’re more than meeting the standard where you’re at! If you are already consistently exceeding expectations as an employee and/or leader, then you might need to look for other opportunities to contribute. But that leads to the next question:
2. Am I Giving 100% OF MY Effort?
You’re probably thinking, John, if I’m exceeding expectations, then I’m definitely giving 100% effort! You might think so, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s possible to give less than our best and still exceed the expectations placed on us by our positions.
Resist the coaster’s mentality—that’s when you settle for less than your best simply because it’s better than what’s expected! If you’re not giving your 100% to where you are, then chances are that you would transfer that same attitude to a new position. Find a way to re-engage with your position and challenge yourself to be completely focused on giving your best work.
3. Am I Seeing and Seizing Growth Opportunities?
You may not realize it, but growth opportunities exist all around you. It’s easy to see your current discontentment as a sign that you need to leave. But in reality, it might be a sign that you need to level up. Don’t let your restlessness blind you to the opportunities to grow that may be present right where you are. Search hard for them, and don’t move on until you’re certain that you’ve made the most of every opportunity.
4. Am I Currently Mentoring Others?
As I wrote in a recent blog post, whenever you leave a position, you take your influence, vision and momentum with you—unless you’ve spent time developing someone to take your place. The mentoring question is the last question to ask, because doing so always leaves things better than they were when you arrived. Plus, if you’re not giving to the people who are already in your life, then you’re not prepared to give to those you haven’t met!
The theme for all four of these questions is to be all that you can be where you are. Grow and give until you’ve filled the space that you’re in. When you know you’ve done that, it might be time to move on. But that brings up the number one question that I always ask myself, which comes out of my personal faith. It is, for me, the most important question I ask before making any kind of transition or change. And that question is, Is this what God would have me do? For me, everything I do is rooted in my relationship with God. So it’s only natural that I seek His guidance—after all, He understands what’s best for me even better than I do!
No matter where you are now, if you’re committed to growth, you will eventually feel like you have more to give than your current situation allows. And the good news is, there are always places for people who are pushing the limits of their potential. But before you make any big decisions, ask yourself these four questions. They might reveal more for you to do where you are. You’ll never regret taking stock before you take flight—no matter which direction you choose to soar.