Last Saturday, four of us took in “Letters to Juliet”. It turned out to be much better than I had expected; and a few of the lines reminded me how powerful two simple words can become when they are placed right next to each other. As the title suggests, those words are “what” and “if”.
For the moment, clear your mind (and your heart) of everything except those two words. Use them to begin a string of sentences. The sentences can range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Here’s what I mean:
Pigs could fly?
Cats could bark?
I could play the piano?
I could make a decision?
I could put down all the baggage I’ve been carrying around since whenever?
I could communicate better with my family? My employees? My clients?
I could add another 3% to the bottom line?
I had some plans to develop potential successors for the business?
I could get unstuck?
Now I don’t know that the world would be a better place if pigs could fly and cats could bark. But how would a positive answer to the more sublime questions change the quality of your life, the lives of those around you, and increase the probability that your dreams could become realities?
Several years ago, while watching Monday Night Football, I heard Don Meredith, by then a sports announcer, comment that “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, we would all have a Merry Christmas.” Many of us do live in a world of ‘ifs and buts’; some by choice and some by chance. It is a world that can be described as a parallel universe.
By asking the “what if . . . “question, you can empower yourself. You can begin to craft potential solutions to the challenges negatively impacting your satisfaction or developing a sustainable euphoria that allows you to better enjoy the fruits of your labor. To do that, you and I must go beyond the land of candy and nuts. We must ask another question: “if it were possible to do (you fill in the blank), what would I have to do to make it happen? Can I do that at a price I am willing to pay?”
If you are not willing to pay the price for turning “what if” into a fait accompli, then it is possible, maybe even probable, that you are more interested in wish fulfillment than in actual accomplishments. That acknowledgement alone can give you a sense of accomplishment. And success, whether it’s life success, family success, business success, or succession success, is built on accomplishment.
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