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Is Your “Primary Question” Helping or Hindering Your Career?

Now you’re asking yourself, what’s a Primary Question? I’m about to tell you, but first I want to explain the impacts of having the right or wrong question rule your decision-making process.If I ask you to think back to a time when you had a disastrous outcome by making the “wrong choice”, most certainly there was a question that you asked yourself at that time that led you to the decision. Once you discover what that question is/was you can understand its impacts and actually change it to create better outcomes for yourself.

Let me illustrate this with an example from my own life. In 1999, I was living in Silicon Valley and wanting to work abroad. I was offered a job with a Pre-IPO in Amsterdam, as well as an already public company in Sydney. I flew to both places, interviewed with both companies and the money was on par. So, what were the biggest differences?

In Amsterdam, the weather, the language, and the culture were very different to the California lifestyle I was used to and as such, created doubt (or so I thought). In Sydney however, it was a more temperate climate, English speaking, and I had lived there before so it appeared to be an easier transition. I, of course, selected Sydney.

Fast-forward 12 months. My Sydney company had gone under (dot.com bomb), I was without a work visa and a job, and thus, was burning through my savings at a rapid rate.

On the flip side, over in Amsterdam, the person who took the job I declined, was sitting on a post-IPO worth of about $4 million USD with a lifestyle that included a lot of international travel and great financial benefits.

So, did I regret that choice? Absolutely!! But I felt (at that time) I had no crystal ball and no possible way of knowing which one would turn out better… or DID I?

If I go back and investigate my PRIMARY QUESTION, (in other words, the one thing I used to figure out which opportunity would suit me), it turns out my decision was based solely on one question: “Which place would be more fun and easy to live?” I’m sure you are now thinking to yourselves, that is not a bad question as lifestyle is very important and I would agree. BUT… was that question taking into consideration my long-term health, wealth, and security desires? Possibly not.

So, while my question was a good one, it was not the BEST one to be the PRIMARY question I should have used to make such a life-changing decision. I have since looked backwards and noticed that I have used that question in my past as the deciding factor in many areas of my life, e.g. which man to date, which apartment to live in, whether to buy a home, or travel in business class? Thus, my life in the past reflected the outcomes of using that question to make many of my decisions.

So, after figuring that out, I have developed a new PRIMARY question (I’ve kept the above question in my decision-making process, but I’ve moved it to secondary consideration). My new question is “Will this decision bring me long-term satisfaction?”

Thus, if we rewind my life several years, I can find examples where if I had used my current Primary Question, I would have made very different choices and would have avoided a few struggles.

The primary question is so important because it relates to how we choose to meet our top human needs. We do many things daily both positively and negatively to get these needs met. These are needs such as; security, variety, love/connection, growth, significance, and contribution.

That said, I have had a wonderful life of travel, varying job roles, and met a wealth of people that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I now realize that I could have created a different outcome with the power of One… Single… Question!

Are you on the career path, the financial path, or in the relationship that you desire? If not, it’s time to now ask yourself: “What is MY Primary Question?”


Debra shares stimulating ideas to allow people to realize their goals and desired changes. While sharing easy to implement tools and strategies she helps dissolve conflicts and improve satisfaction in the workplace. Debra’s global experience facilitating change in a practical and motivating way has resulted in influencing cultural change and creating happy home and work environments for her clients. Her quick uptake of the client’s business processes enables her to effectively step into the shoes of the group she is training, thus allowing for a high level of user adoption and client satisfaction.

A Certified Coach with a humorous, fun and creative approach, she is skilled in providing training and workshops to various large and small audiences (presales, sales, training, change, etc.) Debra holds certifications in Strategic Intervention Coaching, Training & Assessment, NLP and others, and is all-round passionate about personal development.

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