If yes, then what?

I was chatting with a friend a few weeks ago and she shared this little nugget with me, I thought it was golden. She said that whenever she finds herself about to say no to something, she stops and asks herself “If yes, then what?”

I keep hearing about the power of positive thinking. Lots of theory, but not too many practical examples of how to do that on the job. On a Tuesday morning, with a ‘To-Do’ task list that is a mile long, is not when I’m at my creative or receptive best. How to stay in a positive, solution oriented, ‘can-do, will-do’ frame of mind?

Here is one simple practical tip that seems to work. When in doubt, when you find your heart saying yes and your head saying no, ask yourself… “If yes, then what?” 

In those 5 seconds, when our reptilian brain kicks in to protect us from making a fool of ourselves. For asking the stupid question. For suggesting the impractical idea. From sharing that crazy thought. It’s in those 5 seconds that you need a brain hack that helps you keep an open mind. “If yes, then what” is what I am asking you to try out.

It is what has got me here. Writing this column, I mean. I was chasing down a pair of pineapple socks and I ended up committing to writing this column. 

I love quirky socks, so when I saw a tweet from Amith Prabhu late last year with a bunch of really cool ‘happy socks’ in focus, I asked him to get me the pineapple pair. He very kindly did and at a coffee shop catch up, we got chatting about writing and he asked me if I would be willing to write a weekly column. It was a perfect ‘if yes, then what’ moment. 

I was so close to saying no, since it would be a huge commitment. I caught myself. Did a quick “If yes, then what” think through and realised that I had written every Sunday for a year (more or less). So, if I said yes, then what I was committing to doing, was continuing with that ritual. Not as scary a thought as when I first heard all the warning bells going off. 

Is it still hard work? Yes, off course it is, but I enjoy it.

So, the next time you have a brain wave that gets you all excited for 5 seconds and then starts to scare the hell out of you…try the “If yes then what” tactic. In fact, don’t just try it on yourself. Try it in a team meeting when you are about to shut an idea down. Try it in a client setting when you are asked to do something really difficult, or with an unrealistic deadline. It all starts with opening up your mind to the possibilities. 

If yes, then what…

It changes the perspective. Shifts mental gears. Makes you look at things from a point of view that is exploring, open, future focused. It takes you to a good mental space and place. 

Try it out. If it works for you, would love to hear from you. If not, would still love to hear from you. Stay happy. Stay mentally healthy. 


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Vice Chair of Weber Shandwick India. Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.
Nikhil is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF).
He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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