4 The record articles

What-If Island

Posted: January 25th, 2017

Author: All4 Staff 

This blog is about making a distinction and then doing something about it. At ALL4, we embrace a coaching management philosophy and we believe that by facilitating conversations that prompt self-discovery great things happen.   

What do you think about on your way home from work?  If I’m not careful, I get hijacked and taken to the horrible, scary, dreary What-If Island. I’m sure you can relate.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no one to blame for these hijacks except myself, well, my thoughts to be specific.  A hijacking occurs when you lose track of time and perspective and you end up in a bad place. Most of the time, you don’t even know you’re going.  Then, all of sudden, you’re on What-If Island.  At ALL4, we also like to refer to this as, Creating a Story.  It starts with one little thought (it often happens on my drive home from work).  “What if I messed up that calculation?” or “My client is probably tired of hearing from me” and then it snowballs into a whole lot of worries, woes and What-Ifs (sounds like lions, tigers and bears!).  That’s when you arrive on What-If Island. The sun never shines, and it’s cold and lonely…except for the big monsters that chase you – although they never catch you.  The shadows of monsters are your What-Ifs that are dark.  When I’m hijacked, it’s no good for anyone.  I arrive home stressed…and act like something that rhymes with lurk

Am I increasing your blood pressure?  Don’t worry (no pun intended).  You probably started going to What-If Island when you were a kid…yet you didn’t turn into a permanent castaway (hopefully).  My point to all of this hijacking and island hoopla is to share the escape route to your worries, woes and What-Ifs …and there’s only two steps.  

First: Give your worry a name and frame it, e.g. “What-If Island”, “Creating a Story”. Next time you hear it, from yourself, a colleague, a friend, or even your kid… call it out.  Give it a name…what’s that cliché?  Awareness is the first step.  Here’s how a What-If sounds at work:  (George) “Did we win that proposal yet?” (Me) “No, they never called, they probably (insert What-If here).”  I could pick from a laundry list of What-Ifs such as “they probably thought the cost was too high” or “perhaps they went with our competition”.  But the thing about worries and What-Ifs is that they are not the facts.  Too many times we considered a proposal “lost” only to get the purchase order the next day… with a note that says, “Sorry for the delay, I was visiting my cousin Elma in North Dakota.”  How many times have you had the same type of experience?  Although the names may change, the story remains the same.  My friend Mark Twain always said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”  When you’re aware of and frame your worries, you quickly realize how much time you spend on What-If Island…the only place where fiction lives.

Second: We all know that worries, woes and What-Ifs can mess up your head, not to mention your health.  It’s ironic that what you need to do is the same thing that got you there, think.  Once you frame it, light it up.  Bear with me because this is where I go competitive.  Frame it – then game on.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  Yeah, go there.  Turn that light on – find those monsters under your bed and on What-If Island.  When you face that monster square in the nose, you know what happens?? You realize that whatever it is, isn’t that bad…and you can handle it. If you’d rather go with the analogy of Creating a Story, acknowledge that great imagination of yours, and then pivot to the facts.

Case in point.  What-If Island is a well-known destination in my household.  I was putting my daughter to bed last night (the timing of this blog was impeccable) and she was worrying about her first lacrosse practice, ever. “What if I’m not good?  What if the coach doesn’t like me?” I just looked at her.  “Wait.  No. I’m on the island Mom.  You know what…there’s nothing here but sunshine.  I’m going to kick some butt, bring it…”   Score.


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