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​What Do You Want?

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Things are definitely ramping up in the world. I know you've all been working hard throughout the pandemic, but many changes are coming home to roost and internal auditors everywhere are finding that the new and increased risks mean new and increased work.

I'm going through a similar kicking into high gear with more opportunities coming my way. As I discuss these opportunities with various clients, I'm remembering and reliving one of the conundrums faced by many freelancers. What do I accept, and what do I reject? Various things have and will cause me to reject an offer (scheduling conflicts and an inability to present on the suggested topic are the main ones.) And basic things have always been important in my decisions to accept a project — the opportunity to help others learn, the opportunity to travel, and the opportunity to get out there and learn what is going on in the internal audit world.

But I've recently added a new question to my repertoire for decision-making. Not the normal consideration of "What's in it for me?", but a different question: "What do I want?" A simple change that results in a different focus — from what I'll "get" to what it is I "want."

The answer to this question changes with each opportunity and it changes with each day. But asking the question is helping me gain new insights in the work I'm doing.

As an example, I've been working with a client who laid out what he is looking for in topics and content. We ended our last meeting by my asking him to provide an answer to the questions: "What do you want your employees to get out of the training? What do you want them to have gained when it is all said and done?" (By the way, these are questions you should always ask when you are sending someone for training or going to training yourself.)

There's a chance he thinks I'm just sitting back now waiting for the answer. But that is far from the truth. I've continued to think about our conversation — the direction requested and the basic needs outlined — and I'm seeing an interesting approach.

I'm working on some thoughts that, I hope, I get to him before this blog post sees the light of day. What I am seeing — what I want out of this — is a fresh look at some areas where I have provided training before. And one of the things driving this — one of the things making me excited about this opportunity — is I'm answering the question, "What do I want?" The specific answer in this particular instance is unimportant to our discussion here. The important thing is that asking the question has led to something new and exciting … and better.

Look, I realize a sizable chunk of you out there are not freelancers. In other words, you get the projects that are assigned to you rather than getting to pick and choose the ones that you think might provide you the most value. The boss assigns the work; you have to take it. But that doesn't mean that, when you are assigned that project — anything from a review of blockchain to an audit of petty cash — you don't ask yourself that same question.

What do I want?

What will you get from this project? How will you make it yours? What is hidden in the project that others may not see? How can you gain an iota of experience and knowledge from the project? How can you make it fit into the bigger picture of what you are trying to be as an internal auditor? Any of the above. All of the above. Some of the above. None of the above.

What do you want?

I have no idea if my newly grandiose scheme for a proposed presentation will come together. I do not know if it will match anything the client wants. I do not know if I can do it. I do not know if circumstances will get in the way. I do not know if anything will come of it. I do not know if it will happen. But I know I've found an extra excitement in this project that, if I hadn't been willing to ask the question, "What do I want?", would not have appeared.

And that should be what you are looking for — that something more; that opportunity for every project, assignment, and audit to give you what you want.

Sort it out. Figure it out. Know what you want. And then figure out how to use every project to get it.

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