I don’t know how this idea got into my head but the action of asking yourself, your office, your family, a question that starts with “What if…” seems to be something that is quite obscure these days.
A deceiving phrase to say the least. Trying to finish that sentence usually starts with very topical and typical responses, such as:
What if I got up earlier this morning and ran?
What if I ate Cheerios and a banana instead of Frosted Flakes and a muffin?
What if I left the office on time and had more time at home to read, relax, refresh?
What if I forgot my lunch?
Those are all fun and great, but not the journey I trying to bring you along with me on. My favorite words from Matt Cheuvront, “Think big. Start small. Grow fast.” apply to this train of thought. What happens when you apply that to say, a conference? (You knew I was going there, right?)
What if… conferences weren’t only three days?
What if… conferences became two or three month experiences?
What if… you could only attend one session that lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. ?
What if… we tried this next year at the XYZ conference?
You see, it starts to get fun! There is no risk involved. It is daydreaming and throwing ideas in the air to see what takes off and could fly. It allows for the cross-pollination of ideas.
Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Organize a brown bag luncheon meeting with a group of colleagues (no more than 7) and start off with something that gets them in the mindset to think big, take risks, and daydream. Then ask them for some “What if…” statements. I’ve had the pleasure of being able to do this in the past and it led to some amazing new campus programs and traditions. Give it a shot. You might be surprised.
2. Can’t organize that meeting? Want to start smaller? Get a whiteboard, bulletin board, or open wall space with some Post-Its and a pen nearby. Put up the prompt. “What if…” Share with the office the point of the board and encourage them to post anonymously their ideas.
3. Don’t have the power or ability or office space to create a wall? Open up PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or Keynote. Create a new presentation. Save it as “What if” on your desktop. Anytime a new “What if…” idea or thought comes to mind, open up the file and put it on a slide. When the time comes, write, share, speak about a “What if” that seems more feasible than it did when you first wrote it out.
Remember. Some ideas need luck, some ideas need timing, and some ideas need both. (tweet this)
Give it a chance and you may find that you are asking yourself in a week, month, or year, “What if I never called these people together/posted that whiteboard/created that file?”