“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a question that is often asked of younger people earlier in their careers. (It is sometimes asked of those later in their careers as well.) I have never felt comfortable with this question, and yet I understand its intent. It seeks to learn of the the vision or goal setting abilities of the individual – all good things. My concern with this question is that by focusing on the individual’s goals and visions for their own future, it encourages a very self-centered view of the future. When we focus only on our own goals and visions for sometime hence – without inclusion of our social environment and impact in our formulations – we perpetuate a social order rife with conflict.
Rather than contemplate the individualistic view of the self in the future, think about a future view in the broader context of the social organization – be it a company, organization, neighborhood, nation or the world – and what your role in arriving at the desired state could be that is both impactful to the larger community as well as fulfilling to you as the individual. In everything I read, and have ever read, about that which distinguishes leaders whose legacy endures the test of time, this one single trait of placing the progress of humanity above the progress of themselves individually is unmistakably woven within their character. Dare I go one step further to argue that a reversal of such priorities by anyone is, at some level, an abdication of responsibility in being a member of a community.
It is also important to distinguish that of which I am speaking and the act or showing of commitment by working long hours that routinely infringe upon our time with those most important in our lives. When this happens, we might tell ourselves we are serving the greater good of an organization – and in a very limited number of occurrences, this might be true. Much more often than not, such actions are serving our own needs more than those of the organization – be it in pursuit of recognition and extra compensation or more emotionally treacherous, a want for martyrdom as a management technique for our insecurities.
In closing, my thoughts about putting community above self is in no way meant to suggest that self-awareness is not important. On the contrary, it is probably the most important first step in best defining our roles in the creation of a social group’s future.
Feedback and comments are, as always, welcome.
Thanks for reading. Have a Great Day!