Recently I spoke at a leadership training conference for my company. Most of the conference was spent talking about how great the team has been doing and all of the growth we’ve achieved, which was affirming, deserved, and great for morale. But then as I thought about what else to tell my colleagues, I stumbled. I don’t ever want my team—or anybody—to sit back and think, “Wow, we’re doing great, we should just keep doing what we are doing.”
Instead, I asked them to re-imagine our company. I asked them “what if?”
In a time of reflection on past successes lies the perfect opportunity to start asking what-if questions. In these questions, no matter how practical or far-fetched, we can unlock the transformative power of re-imagining our current situation. By simply re-imagining our work culture or the way we do business, we tap into something we might have never seen if we were too busy patting ourselves on the back.
Here are some of the questions I asked my team…
What if everyone were allowed to take power naps during the workday?
What if we could control every device we use at work just by looking at it?
What if we had a rock climbing wall in our office?
What if we all got standing desks (I do)?
What if we are able to predict how long plants can live, and predict the weather with a higher level of certainty?
What if we no longer needed fuel to operate cars and equipment?
What if we used drones to drop off packages at our customer sites?
What if we became an Uber-like company?
You get the idea, there are hundreds what-if questions out there, they all could seem crazy…but they aren’t really; are they?
These Were Once What-If Questions
Consider another set of what-if questions…
What if we could connect, share and get information all from one simple application on our phones and devices that tracked our lives, our purchases and our feelings?
(Today there are more than 600 million Facebook users worldwide.)
What if you could get a master’s degree without leaving the comfort of your own home, with only an Internet connection and your mind as tools?
(Today there are more than 5 million students taking online college classes.)
What if you could earn a living, and have a meaningful career from the comfort of your own home, with only an internet connection and your mind as tools?
(Today 3.7 million people work from home at least part of the time.)
What if you could do your coursework, your work, take photos, send emails and check the weather all from your phone, which you carried with you everywhere?
(64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind.)
What if your phone were also counting how many steps you took and tracked how many cups of coffee you had today? Not so crazy after all.
What were once bold what-if questions are now realities, making our lives, businesses and economy healthier.
Asking these questions is healthy!
Re-imagining the future is a sign of health and wellness. I like to think of it as the tangible dimension of emotional wellness. Still, sometimes it’s tough to come up with what-if questions in the moment. To help you start re-imagining your life and business, here are some simple steps you can follow.
- Become intentional. Be intentional about re-imagining your life. That means carving out time to think about how things can be different. Open your mind to those possibilities and make it a part of your day-to-day to consider them.
- Become transformational, not just transactional. Ask yourself some hard questions about how you can change one of the countless transactions in your day into a transformational moment. When our friends, family, employees and customers encounter us, is their experience of us one that is characterized by being transformational or just transactional?
- View anew. To see things differently is more than just choosing a different perspective, it’s going back to the beginning and completely re-orienting yourself around something. Forget everything you ever knew about a topic,and imagine what it looks like from that perspective. Now what?
- Re-communicate, create space for discussion with friends or coworkers, your community. When we re-imagine as a community, that can enhance the process and journey. Reconnect around the possible future by asking what-if questions of your peers and being a better listener.
- Stop faking it. There are so many different ways we fake it in our day to day. Promise yourself you’ll stop faking it, admit it…and watch as you become open to re-imagination.
Do you think you are capable of so much more than you have imagined in the past? If you can get to a place where you can re-imagine that, then your future could open up to all sorts of new possibilities.