Are you using “Why?” as a whip or a compass?
Such an easy question to ask. Harder to answer. Harder yet to use appropriately when you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a successful business.
Used wrongly, asking yourself “Why?” is a great way to beat yourself up, destroy your forward momentum, and rob yourself of all personal power. This form of “Why?” comes in many forms. Recognize any of these?
- Why did I cave in and give that discount?
- Why didn’t I start working on that proposal early enough to meet the deadline for submission?
- Why did I wait until the last minute to start preparing tomorrow’s presentation?
This version of “Why?” is totally counterproductive, because it traps you, keeps you wallowing in thoughts of what you did wrong. While acknowledging mistakes is certainly not a bad thing in and of itself, it becomes harmful if you stop there. This “Why?” is a powerful tool for sabotaging your confidence and creativity. This is the whip.
On the other hand, a thoughtful and nonjudgmental “Why?” acts like a compass pointing you toward success. It enables you to identify your less-than-optimal decisions and activities, then go one step further to identify how you can do better the next time a similar situation occurs. This “Why?” is future oriented, focuses on results, and empowers rather than diminishes you.
Which sort of “Why?” do you use most often when talking to yourself? Do you use it to keep yourself stuck in the past and playing small in the present, or do you use it to learn from your mistakes and create better outcomes in the future?
BTW, thanks to puuikibeach and Theresa Thompson for posting their images of the whip and compass, respectively, in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.This entry was posted in counterproductive, entrepreneur, personal power, problem solving and tagged counterproductive, personal power, problem solving. Bookmark the permalink.
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