The Miracle Question

I’ve been asking the same question of people for 10 years to learn what’s important to them, beyond work. Psychologists call it the miracle question; it’s about removing confines and setting people just past the finish line so they can see what’s waiting for them on the other side, the thing that they’re pursuing.

I’ve asked this question to a lot of people.

Let’s do a little back-of-the-envelope tallying… Say, I work with 10 people per week times 50 weeks in a year times 10 years… conservatively, we’ll say that’s 5,000 people.

You know what’s crazy? Almost all of these people, regardless of age, job seniority, race, political leanings, earnings, and all of the other demarcations that divide us – regardless of all of these things, people answer in almost the exact same way, and even in the exact same order.

Here’s the question: What would you do if you had $100,000,000?

And here’s the way we all answer:

I’d pay off all of my family’s debt, then I’d invest some of it, then I’d have a party and buy myself a ________, then I’d travel, and, oh, at some point I’d probably create a nonprofit of some sort to do some good in the world.

Sound like you?

To be honest, people have answered so rotely the same that I’ve stopped asking the question. But it certainly says a lot about us and our need for Family, Stability, Fun, Connection, and Contribution (in that order). Doesn’t it?

If you’re ever struggling to find common ground to stand on with someone, look in one of these buckets. It’s what we all want.

We’re not all that different.