Guardrails: Defining What You Want… and What You Don’t

In a conversation the other day with a friend who’s in transition (we’re all in some transition, by the way), two simple yet powerful questions came up.

“Looking toward your next career move, what do you want?

And, just as important, what DON’T you want?”

We go through this exercise with clients all of the time during strategy sessions. Talking about their customers, we ask them who they want to attract. And, just as important, who do they want to repel? We ask the same question about their teams when we’re writing their messaging to help them recruit. Who do you want working here, and what kind of personalities aren’t a good fit?

As we’re planning for the future and imagining what’s possible professionally and personally, knowing what you want and what you don’t is essential. We get 50% of the way there when we set the goals we want to achieve, but too often, we need to pay just as much attention to the second half.

What do I NOT want to achieve?

In my job?

As a leader?

For our company?

In my relationships?

These two questions, “What do you want, and what don’t you want?” create the guardrails we need to stay on track and achieve the things that really matter. When you know your non-negotiables, clarity comes. And, with clarity comes direction, focus, and confidence that we’re putting our energy in the right place.

OrangeBall’s purpose is to “Impact the world by guiding others to unleash their potential with a servant approach.” Unleashing that potential ties back to asking those two questions. When we’re clear on those two answers, potential becomes possible.


Turn everything off and sit down with a blank sheet of paper. Whether leading a team, building a business, or in transition, start writing down what you want. Then, complete the exercise by creating those guardrails and non-negotiables, clarifying what you don’t.

Ready for more?

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