What do you wantFour words that strike fear and make an otherwise capable professional unable to make sense.

What do you want?

When I ask this in a coaching session, there usually a release of breath and a nervous laugh. Then the avoidant answers come out. Formerly articulate people stop putting two sentences together. I have noticed that it isn’t so much that we don’t know what we want (yes, I’ve been struck dumb with this question too). We know all too well. We are dreamers who see ourselves making that dream salary, gaining recognition as a “go-to” person, serving our customers with excellence and living that satisfying life we crave.

Negative messages and negative experiences

Two of my clients recently grappled with “what do you want” and realized that they were remembering someone in their past who said that they weren’t good enough. Some small business owners I know are frustrated with a lack of support from their peers, their government and friends and family members. These things eat away at our motivation and self-belief.

Gender and culture

Two other things get in the way of our ability to answer, “what do you want?” There are messages that you are supposed to tolerate how you pursue your dreams. For men, it might be based on their self-identify as breadwinner. For women, it might be due to messages that they must take care of others and their homes. Cultural biases might be dismissive of dreaming, ambition or success. We carry this stuff in our social mores, our ethnicity/national identity and family identities.

Values and ethics

Another thing that often gets in the way of small business owners or executives from answering the “what do you want” question is a value of service. The thinking is something like this…”if I go for what I want, I will be acting selfishly and letting my clients down.” So, we restrict our choices and our actions. This thinking may or may not be rooted in a negative message we got as a child. It may be based on our spiritual/humanistic practice and our idealism.

You are important too

Whether it is time to let go of your emotional blocks, change what is socially acceptable or give yourself the same level of respect you give to others, expressing your answer is a piece of inhabiting the CEO Mindset and setting up your business for its next stage of growth (and success). But…stating what you want has to be coupled with the a deep level of commitment that you will actively seek what you want. You must promise yourself that you will set up a plan and goals that lead to what you want. Anything less that 100% commitment will lead to a lack of clarity, misguided actions or little change.

So, what do you want?

Go on, ask yourself…

Write down the answer.

Write down your reaction.

Write down your goals and tell your accountability partner what you are aiming for.

Then…fully engage in this quest. Become the practical dreamer!