Weekly Wayfinder – March 20, 2018

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Welcome to the Weekly Wayfinder, a curated list of wayfinding-related inspiration, ideas, activities and fun stuff to click on and learn from. 

WHAT WE’RE READING: Careers aren’t linear; they’re loops.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING: Passion + purpose = wealth.
WHAT WE’RE PLAYING WITH: Your first thought is rarely your best thought.
WHAT WE’RE CURIOUS ABOUT: Do I have enough white space in my routine?
WHAT WE’RE TRYING: The greatest productivity secret no one is talking about.
THIS WEEK’S MANTRA: “What’s the worst that could happen?”

The other day I was talking with a friend who’d recently learned he’d made it to the next round in a very competitive hiring process. The role and the opportunity felt like the right fit for him, so presumably learning that he was moving on to the next phase left him feeling elated and accomplished, right? Not so much.

Instead, he said to me, “I just know – if I keep making it through these rounds and then I don’t get it – I’m going to be so disappointed.”

Rather than celebrating each incremental win, my friend was racing to the finish line: the inevitable rejection he was sure was waiting for him.

Faced with this scenario, I could have tried to give my friend an encouraging pep talk (You’re great! They’d be stupid not to hire you! Of course you’ll get the job!). But instead, I dug a bit deeper and asked: What’s the worst that could happen if you don’t get it?

He paused for a moment, thinking to himself, and then said, “Well, I guess I’ll go back to what I’m doing now.” And what, if anything, will you have gained through the process of interviewing, I asked? “More insight into what this kind of company is looking for so that I’m better prepared next time. Plus, it’s always good to practice interviewing,” he said.

Simply by talking about it, we realized that the worst thing that could happen actually wasn’t so bad. In fact, my friend’s worst case scenario was actually an additive learning experience, one that would be make his inevitable success – whenever and however it happens – that much sweeter.

This ‘worst case scenario’ question isn’t just interesting fodder for your next dinner party conversation; in fact it’s a very basic but very profound way of checking our own fears, assumptions and worries, and questioning whether they actually warrant the feelings we’re attaching to them:

  • Not sure whether to ask for that raise? What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Have a crush but worried about rejection? What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Don’t want to get your hopes up about a new job? What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s not a scientific formula, but so far it’s been tough to come up with a worst case scenario that truly is as bad as we think it might be. And anyway, even if we do come up with a worst case scenario that really is that bad – couldn’t we argue that knowing that gives us more insight and information to help us adjust our course, make new or better plans, and even redirect our energy? 

This week I encourage you to notice: when do you find yourself shying away from an opportunity, closing yourself off, or saying no? What happens if, for just a moment, you ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen if I say yes? 

You might just find you surprise yourself.