Friday, July 24, 2009

Food For Thought Friday: Are You A What If Person? Maybe It's Time To Change Your Thinking

Good morning Everybody,
Wow - can you believe it, a morning post coming out of DigitalProTalk this week. I have to say, it was nice to get down to Tampa yesterday and just catch my breath. R.C. Concepcion of Layers TV fame and I had dinner last night at City Fish, in my opinion, the best restaurant in town. It you ever get down to the Tampa/Oldsmar Florida area, City Fish is definitely a place to visit. It was also great to catch up with RC.

OK, gang - time to get on with today's post.

Are You A What If Person? Maybe It's Time To Change Your Thinking.
Every now and then I receive an email or read a comment about one of my posts which asks the "What IF" question. So what is a "What IF" question? Let me explain. Have you ever been really excited about something? Are you just burning to give it a try? You share your idea and they get pretty fired up too. Then it happens, somebody in the crowd starts poo-pooing the whole idea - "It won't work because of this or because of that", or "I don't think...", "I wouldn't try...", "I can't...", "You shouldn't...." Negativeness all around. You get the idea.

The thing you were really excited about starts getting shot down right out of the gate. I wonder, sometimes, why people take that tact in the discussion. Why don't the "What IF" people first get excited about the concept and add to the positive energy of the discussion. Once the idea or concept starts to blossom, then take a more critical look at the possibilities, positive and negative. To lob the negative "What IF" comments into the discussion early on is to pluck the new buds off the idea before it even has a chance to blossom. What's the point of that?!

I might post a new idea or a creative concept that I think would be very beneficial to our readers. Sure, we might have to work out the bugs as we do with anything new, but with the bugs worked out, all these new doors of opportunities open up for us. But then the occasional negative response is posted.

Let me be more specific. A few weeks ago, I posted about how we are using the GoToMeeting software to stay in much closer touch with our out-of-town clients. It works like a charm, by the way. There was a p00-poo comment posted after the article. I'm not trying to step on the commenter's toes, but the comment raised the question about what happens if during the client presentation the GoToMeeting server goes down?

What happens if the client is at my studio and we loose power? We had that happen before, by the way. Simple - apologize, reschedule - no big deal. Anyway, on with my rant.

It's this negative "What IF" thinking that I find such a limiting way to approach new ideas and methodologies. Why do some people find that expressing the "negative" is "positive"? Wouldn't creative position discussion offer much more efficient, creative, and profitable opportunities in our businesses and also in our lives?

How many times have you been guilty of throwing roadblocks up in your own lives with the famed "What IF" response to an idea or a possible solution without first considering the positive aspects of that idea or solution? I guess it's a bit of the "glass half empty vs. half full" way of thinking. I feel it's a self defeating way to approach something new, a new concept, technique, new idea.

I'm not suggesting a "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" way of thinking. I'm not suggesting disregarding any lack of common sense prudence before implementing new ideas. I'm just disappointed that so many people seem to set up their own road blocks to success with what Zig Ziglar called "Stinkin' Thinkin'". Want a further peek at what I'm talking about - check out the link right at Phych Central.

I think that at the very least, the "What IF " responses should be reserved for the later part of any meetings or discussions when the topics revolve around new ideas, new possibilities, new options that could make things more beneficial in our lives and our businesses. The first blush of any discussion should always embrace the positive. It's this positive energy that breeds more exciting off-shoots from the original idea. Kicking in a negative "What IF" statement early on in the process is tantamount to snuffing the fires of creativity, creativity that could make the original idea even a better than ever before. The early idea needs to take root and grow into something viable and possible. Only at that time should we invite the "What IF" questions into the discussion.

This is not to say that the "What ifers" should be denied their say. LaDawn prefers to play "devils advocate" quite often to explore all possibilities. Everyone brings something to the table when discussing something new and exciting. I think the "What ifers" should also contribute to the positive aspects of the discussion early on. It should be a preferred requirement, a standing rule - in the creative process of discussion. The creative process can get derailed early on with the "What if" grenades tossed into the discussion too early.

What's the bottom line? I think any business meeting or discussions meetings whose purpose it is to explore new ideas, new technologies, new solutions, and new possibilities need to thrive in a healthy, live sustaining environment of positive discussion and interaction. These kinds of meetings to be inclusive of everyone that's come to the table with the stipulation that all positive aspects of the new idea are discussed first.

Only after the meeting has prospered with the positive aspects of the discussion should the "What IFs" be introduced. Let's explore the "What IFs" and see if the new idea really is a great idea. Let's not pull the rug out from under the idea, concept early on. Be patient with the process and many more ideas will be fostered in your business and your lives.

Please don't be an "Early on what IF" person. It slows down positive energy; it disguises possibilities; it hampers creativity; it slows down life. Living a "What IF" life is only living half a life, because that's all you have left when you take the "IF" out of LIFE.

End of rant #72.

Food for thought-

Keep smilin' everybody - it makes people wonder what you're up to next;~) See ya' next week, --David


  1. You are right on about the "what ifs" David. It happens frequently. I was at at a seminar in Detroit last spring and I asked the speaker (I won't name him here) for advice on meeting with out of town wedding clients. The answer I received was "the only proper way is in studio presentations. Nothing else will

    Phil in mich.

  2. Sorry my comment was cut off. Love technology. Anyway I love go to meeting.


  3. What you are talking about is exactly the reason why brainstorming sessions in serious and successful businesses are set up in a way that first everybody shares there ideas no matter how stupid or immature they might be and only after that people are allowed to criticize. To be really creative you need not to have others discourage you in expressing the most obscure thoughts that come to your might. More often than not these thoughts are the winners!

    So great perspective and perception from your side - I can only support this rant. Thanks!

  4. Great post. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and leap. There is always something that can go wrong, but you can prepare for it.

  5. Ziser,

    Thanks for the post, you are a great mentor indeed:) Keep up the great work!

  6. But still, can't you ban those people from your site? :)

  7. David,

    Great post! I couldn't agree more with your position. Incidently, we had a "GoToMeeting" with out-of-town clients this week, and it went very well. We have another with out-of-town bride & groom tomorrow. Sure beats just throwing images up online and seeing what happens. Thanks for the great insights!

    Tim in VA

  8. Great thoughts. I will keep this in my mind, because sometimes, maybe only me, I have days where I only see a half empty bottle.

  9. I think a balance needs to be struck and this will only come with experience. Sometimes, it's hard to know if you're being a "what ifer" or if you're being sensible.

  10. My experience is that most "What ifers" are also the "Never Tryers". They don't understand trial and error and never take a risk to see if something will work. They see themselves as the savior who can fix everyone's problems before they have them. There's something pathological in their need to be right and and that their opinion in the only one that counts. What if, they are wrong? What if what you tired actually worked?

  11. I am the individual in question.
    However I feel that I have been misrepresented in your interpretation of my comments.
    This is an exact quote of what I said on July 9 09:

    "There are bound to be some hang ups with your choice of remote communications software.
    Such as having part of the group at your office and another part over the internet; then disaster strikes and GoToMeeting's server is down.

    With that said I think that if you might want to have a contingency plan in effect and ready to go (installation and kinks worked out with a free version of a similar software).

    While I have no immediate plans to use this technology i think its intriguing and would be very impressive to any clients.
    But how embarrassing would it be to set up said meeting and then everything falls apart at the last minute.

    Just my two cents.

    Great post and great ideas..."

    I had just used a free version (not GoToMeetng)that you had mentioned and the server was down and not able to share my desktops screen. I did not plan on using this software again or until I could afford one that was more on the professional side. This is why I said what I did.
    I don't feel that it was truly negative in tone, but i could be wrong...sometimes i am.

    In addition, my initial comments to the online meeting software on July 2nd was this (positive, I believe):
    "David, you are a genius! I don't yet know how I should incorporate this tip, but I know that I will in the future...

    Thanks for the great advice and have a great day."

    David, I was just trying to say that a contingency plan would be nice for anyone trying to avoid embarrassment. I apologize to you if I didn't come off like I should have; considering that I read your blog quite frequently and greatly respect you and your blog.

    Furthermore, I have read comments on this site that are very critical and comment was nothing in comparison.

    While some of the commenters are correct in their analysis of my personality, they are forgetting that I am an intelligent individual who is always trying to improve and grow; whether it is in my skills, my shortcomings as a human, or my lack of tact when issuing constructive criticism.

    I will take this post and the comments as a chance to recognize an area in my life that needs improvement, nothing else.

    Lastly, something could be said for those who read your post,jump on the bandwagon of the offended and generate their own thoughts of negativity...after all negativity is what we are talking about here, right?

  12. I like Joe McNally's approach to "what if"--the positive kind. He's always saying "what if we try this technique/shot/angle/lighting?", trying it, assessing it, and trying something else--whatever's necessary to get "The Shot". That's the best kind of "what if"!

  13. Hey everybody, Thanks for the comments. Hi Daniel, I was not trying to single you out. I think on that day my staff may have been doing the same thing. GoToMeeting is one of the BIG guys out there in this field. If they were down, that would be more the exception than the rule. Anyway, thanks for your clarification and nice remarks.

  14. David,

    As a renowned "What If'er," I have to take exception to the concept of your article. You did well to include the issue of a lack of common sense, and that is exactly where I've been labeled as "Mr. No."

    As an employee of a company for 10 years that was rife with pie-in-the-sky thinkers, glory-getters, and self-aggrandizers, I was often the sole voice of common sense, or at least taking the concept a few steps further and beginning to think about logistics.

    Fortunately, the last two years at the company allowed me to work closely with a colleague/supervisor who actually appreciated my "Mr. No" attitude, not because I disliked an idea, but that I often thought further through the concept than others and presented issues that would need to be addressed before successfully implementing the concept.

    While I do appreciate those that have grand ideas, I do not appreciate those same individuals not having any common sense, and often implement these ideas with knee-jerk reaction. I believe that if I am expected to keep an open mind, then they should actually think through the process before spouting off their idiocy.

    Really, it comes down to balance. Ideas are great, but must be thought through before implemented. Also, ideas shouldn't be shot down, just for having the idea (but they should be shot down if the ideas are acted upon without thinking).