My wife and I were hooked on the TV show Mad Men that just aired its series finale. In an episode from the final season, one of the main characters, Peggy Olson, is told that she has to fill out her own performance review, meaning that it’s viewed as just a formality.
But, Peggy genuinely wants a review, and insists that main character Don Draper conduct one for her.
“Next-level” questions make clear what someone truly wants
What Peggy gets is less a review than it is a series of questions from Don that remind me of questions I might ask my coaching clients. Questions that I call “next-level” questions, meant to get someone clear on what’s behind what they say they want.
Don: What do you see for the future?
Peggy: I’d like to be the first woman creative director of this agency.
Peggy: That’s funny to you?
Don: No, I’m impressed that you know exactly.
Peggy: Well, what else is there?
Don: That’s what I’m asking… Say you get that. What’s next?
Peggy: Land something huge.
Don: And then?
Peggy: Have a big idea… Create a catchphrase.
Don: So, you want fame.
Don: What else?
Peggy: I don’t know.
Don: Yes, you do.
Peggy: Create something of lasting value.
Don: (laughing) In advertising?
Peggy: This is supposed to be about my job, not the meaning of life!
It’s a TV drama, so the performance review ends abruptly after Peggy calls Don on trying to “dump” (she uses another word) on her dreams. And she’s right! Don is resolving his own issues about the meaning of life.
Still, Don’s questions are good ones because they peel back the layers of what Peggy says she wants and get to the core of what she truly wants.
If this topic interests you, click here to read my blog where I go deeper into asking “next-level” questions to uncover what you truly want.