« What are the laws of work? | Main | A daily planning experiment: two weeks of accountable rigorous action »

What if you...

...ignored people who said "You shouldn't..."?
What if it was new, risky, or uncertain? What if you invited those people out of your life?

...told yourself it's OK you made that embarrassing copy/paste error in an important email?
You might even generate a chuckle or two (at least from yourself). What if you're still ruminating about it on your death bed?

...refused to pay attention to conventional wisdom?
What if you don't want to do it, don't like doing it, or aren't good at it? What if it sounds reasonable. What if it's some "know you should be" advice?

...listened to yourself and did something you believe in?
Even if everyone else warned you off?

...decided not to ever catch up on your RSS backlog?
Would it really matter? Maybe you're probably already reading the important ones?

...had a conversation where you only listened and asked questions?
What if you don't get to make a point? What if you do this with someone you don't like or don't agree with?

...took a minute to ask about someone's life?
What if she carries your mail, picks up your garbage, or works in customer service? Would this change anything - for either of you?

...dropped that client who a) you don't like, and b) is pushing you to lower your rates?
What if you raised the rates you charge them?

...decided to expand your social network?
When's the last time you actively looked for new friends? What if someone says no?

...substituted wit for profanity and sarcasm?
What if it was hard to do?

...reflected for a few days on that compliment you received?
Is that a better use of your wetware than mulling the negative?

...always had three questions that apply to anyone in any social situation
How about "What do you do for a living?", "What do you love about your work?", or "What makes your job hard?"

...made a big effort to listen to someone's name when you're introduced?
People really like to hear their own names. And they do notice when you try to converse when you can't remember them.

...started a personal humor regime?
Kaizen it: Notice one little thing that surprised and delighted you each day.

...got more comfortable with not knowing where you're going?
Would it help you to better enjoy the ride?

...put "please" at the start of sentences instead of at the end?
Would "Would you please __" convey something different than "Would you __ please?"

...listened to that little "Maybe I should..." voice the moment you hear it?
How about when you think you recognize someone? Or when something attracts your attention, but you're afraid to go over because you'll attract a little attention.

...sent free books to people when they show interest during a conversation?
What if you didn't tell them? What if you did this with everyone?

...said yes even though it's a stretch?
What could you learn? What if you look bad or fail?

...started a blog on a very tiny topic?
What if each post was one sentence. What if it was funny? How about "Medical words you really don't to hear your doctor use" or "Funny things my kid said"? Would it change how you see the world?

...went one whole evening without turning on your laptop?
Or checking your Blackberry? Kaizen it: Just one night. What if instead you spent it with someone you love?

...called one of your competitors just to chat?
What if they said no? What if it was uncomfortable?

...lowered your standards and planned to do less tomorrow?
What if someone noticed? How would you feel after?

...tracked things you love doing during your workweek?
Kaizen it: Just one week. What if they were far less frequent that those you hate doing, or are no good at? What could you do about it?

...there was a name for all this?
"Experience?" "Maturing?" "Living?"

Reader Comments (4)

So many inspiring and thought provoking questions. You challenge the status quo ideas that need this kind of exploration.

Excellent points... what if you drop a client that you don't like; listened to yourself and did something because you believe in it; refuse to pay attention to conventional wisdom. It is a fantastic new rule book.

Culturally there is so much focus on money, success, notoriety and power. But take these away and what remains? Human spirit, a sense of humor and positive energy, as you have so wonderfully illustrated. The journey matters, not the result.

I think the next question is "Why not..."

May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLiza Cunningham

> But take these away and what remains? Human spirit, a sense of humor and positive energy, as you have so wonderfully illustrated. The journey matters, not the result.

Very nice, Liza.

> I think the next question is "Why not..."

Exactly! In fact, my first title was "Moving from Why to Why not" :-)

May 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

"...decided not to ever catch up on your RSS backlog?"

I got stuck on this one and couldn't read the rest. ;-)

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Braithwaite

COL (chuckling out loud) :-)

May 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.