If you're at the beginning of your career journey or sitting confused at a work crossroads, there are tons of possible questions you can ask yourself to clarify your thinking and narrow in on the right path for you:
All these have merit and might be useful in various situations, but according to VC Guy Turner there's one more less often suggested question you should probably add to this list: am I a builder or a judge?
Turner drew the distinction between these two broad types of professionals in a recent blog post boiling down his career advice into four broad questions to consider. The builder vs. judge distinction is the least obvious of the four, and therefore perhaps the freshest and most useful for many.
What's the difference between a builder and a judge?
Builders enjoy "creating products, teams, relationships or companies," according to Turner. Judges "prefer to review and analyze others' work." Founders, engineers, executives and salespeople are all builder professions. Successful CFOs, strategy analysts, and investors tend to be judges.
Of course, you might observe that a great many well known people have been both excellent founders and successful investors in the course of their careers. And Turner acknowledges that this isn't a binary choice, but instead a spectrum. "I do have some builder in me, and that's why I was drawn to building a new investing firm with my partners rather than joining another. Yet 90% of what I do is judging," writes Turner, using himself as an example.
Figuring out where you fall on this spectrum is crucial to finding a job that will make you happy, he goes on to insist. "It is best not to compromise... much on builder vs. judge fit," he writes, as doing so "begs unhappiness, and your significant other doesn't want to hear about it every day."
Of course, this distinction is far from the only thing you need to think about when you're pondering whether a particular direction or gig is going to be a good move for you. You can check out the other dimensions Turner urges you to consider in the complete post. But it's worthwhile spending a little time placing yourself on the builder vs. judge spectrum in order to give yourself another useful data point to help you find your way to your dream job.
So, which are you, a builder or a judge?