There are many standard questions I ask Clients when we begin working together. It helps set the parameters for goals, roles, and expectations. There are also questions I ask that help me get to a deeper level of understanding. I use other kinds of questions that allow for reflection.
And then there is the question I have to ask that no one likes: What if things don’t work out the way you expect? What is the worst that can happen? And what will you do if that happens?
I ask because there is a limit to how much control in the world one person can have. Things can go wrong. The future is often challenging to predict. People can surprise you. And sometimes (if you believe in God) God just takes a nap!
Most people love their plans as they are. They assume things will go according to the predicted and desired path. It’s great when that happens. But I’ve been in situations where the worst that can happen DOES happen. Without some ideas of what you might do and how you might proceed – the shock can set you back on your heels. You can lose precious time. You may ‘shoot from the hip’ or react in ways that, because they are not well thoughts out, produce poor results.
When posed with the question “What’s the worst that can happen?’ – people often respond by telling me “oh, that will NEVER happen.” But it can and sometimes does. Or maybe not your entire plan gets upended – but part of it does:
- You offer the job to the best candidate; they turn you down and go work for a competitor.
- You create a presentation with a beautiful technological multimedia program – there is a power outage.
- You go in for a routine medical procedure – the doctor discovers an unexpected problem.
I bet you can add to the list, and I could go on and on with examples as well.
The point is that after you have envisioned how things will go perfectly, ask what could go wrong. Then ask yourself – what will I do if that happens?
If you are living from paycheck to paycheck, what will you do if your car dies?
If you are serving a sit-down dinner for 12, what is you plan if one of your guests doesn’t eat meat?
If you are Introducing a new initiative to a group, how will you respond if they think it’s a stupid idea?
Asking the questions is important – and the answers will allow you to keep your cool when things get a little hot.