Bill George is an author and senior fellow at Harvard Business School who has taught leadership for over a decade and held numerous positions of influence in top-tier organizations. George recently released an e-book entitled, Lead True. I resonate with his work and applaud his outspoken efforts to advance human-centered, authentic leadership practices, as it is not always an easy or popular path to pursue. Lead True is a compilation of articles, book excerpts and personal commentary from George that capture his core values and insight from his bestselling True North series of books.
According to George, “Your True North — which is unique to you — is the internal compass that guides you successfully through life, representing who you are at your deepest level. It is based on your beliefs, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, and the sources of true fulfillment in your life.” Regardless of the stage in life that you are in, or your set of personal circumstances, to hit the mark on your “true north” is not something that is accomplished overnight. Just like leading from the heart — defining and actualizing your higher purpose requires deep introspection, self-awareness, and discernment. The book poses contemplation-worthy questions inviting readers to examine how they measure success.
Do you value success or significance? It is a momentous question that requires the reader to dig in and do the work — to pause and thoroughly assess your life and discover your fundamental calling. To help you get started, George came up with 30 reflective questions, listed below. It is recommended that you try not to answer them all at once, but rather take your time and mindfully contemplate your responses by answering one question per day, for 30 days. Finally, consider this piece of advice from George, “Remember, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
30 questions to help you find your True North:
1. What do you want your legacy to be? 10, 20, 50 years from now, what will your life stand for?
2. What one word would you like people to use to describe you? What word do you think they’d currently use?
3. If money was no object, how would you spend your time? What would your day look like?
4. Fill in the blank: My life is a quest for _______. What motivates you? Money? Love? Acceptance? Making a difference in the world?
5. If you were to donate everything you have to a cause or charity, which would it be?
6. What is your biggest regret? If you could go back and have a ‘redo,’ what would you change?
7. When was the last time you told a lie? Why? What would have happened if you had told the truth?
8. If you accomplish one thing this year, what would have the biggest impact on your happiness?
9. What do you think is the meaning of life? Do you live your life accordingly?
10. What would others say is your biggest asset? What would they say is your biggest flaw?
11. What did you like to do when you were 10 years old? When was the last time you did that?
12. What do you love most about your current job? What do you wish you could do more of?
13. What do you think you were put on this earth to learn? What were you put here to teach?
14. What keeps you awake at night? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
15. List your core values. How do they match up with your company’s mission statement?
16. What skills do people frequently compliment you on? These may not be what you think you’re best at.
17. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would you say?
18. What do you not want others to know about you? Use your answer to find and conquer insecurities.
19. List the five people you interact with most frequently (not necessarily friends). How is each helping you reach your goals?
20. If your younger self from ten years ago met you today, would he/she be impressed with what you’ve done? Why or why not?
21. What bugs you? Can you make your anger productive?
22. Fast-forward ten or twenty years. What is the one thing that you’d always regret if you never pursued it?
23. When was the last time you embarrassed yourself? You have to be vulnerable to find your purpose.
24. What energizes you? What makes you feel depleted? Do you thrive on chaos, or prefer order?
25. Who do you look up to? Who are your role models and mentors, both those you know personally and those who inspire you from afar?
26. Think about your talents, passions, and values. How can you use them to serve and contribute to society?
27. Why do you want to find your purpose? Write the answer down and put it somewhere you can see it. The journey isn’t always easy.
28. What in your life is ‘on hold’? What are you waiting for?
29. What price would you take to give up on your dreams? What price would you be willing to pay to achieve them?
30. Now that you’ve answered these questions, what is your action plan? What steps will you take today to realize your True North?