“So what?” as a growth strategy

At some point, every one of us has heard (or said) that challenging, often-snarky question:


Success and complacency don't mix.


While many teenagers may view its primary goal as parental aggravation, savvy entrepreneurs know that this simple question represents a powerful strategy for both business and personal growth.

If you haven’t fully tapped the potential of “So what?”, here’s how to apply this powerful phrase to amp up your results.


“So what?” as a reality check.

One of the fastest, easiest ways to psych out and paralyze yourself is to blow things out of proportion so that you view every mistake or setback as a catastrophe. “So what?” can help you avoid this counterproductive thinking.

The reality is that, no matter how traumatic a mistake may feel in the present moment, it’s probably not really going to result in the end of the world – and you can figure out a way to handle any lesser outcome. (For more help with this, check out Susan Jeffers’ classic book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.)

This tactic works particularly nicely in conjunction with the following one.

“So what?” as a perspective that facilitates continuous improvement.

Ask this question any time you get something other than the results you’d hoped for. “So what (contributed to these results)?” will enable you to view your disappointing results as feedback, not failure.

Compassionate challenges keep you and your business growing.

Analyzing what happened from a position of neutrality and curiosity means you won’t waste time beating up on yourself. Instead, you’ll put your creative problem-solving skills to good use by figuring out what not to do next time. Are you focusing on a market that’s not a good fit for your skills? Are your descriptions of your services lackluster? “So what?” can help you figure out the answer to these and similar important questions so you can enjoy better results the next time you’re in a similar situation.

And now for the other side of the feedback coin…

“So what?” as a confidence-builder.

Lacking confidence and frequently criticizing yourself are great ways to psych yourself out and sabotage your results. Conversely, building your confidence by acknowledging and honoring your successes will boost not only your energy, but your willingness to take strategic risks and your positive outcomes, as well.

After you do anything major—a live presentation, a sales call, a webinar—ask yourself, “So what went well today?” You’re explicitly looking for the bright spots because you inevitably find what you’re looking for. Even if it feels at first like a total disaster, first refer to Tool #1 above, then take a deep breath and mutter to yourself, “Something went well; what was it?”

By identifying and patting yourself on the back for what you did well, you’ll feel good about your efforts and have a clear idea of what to do more of when presented with future opportunities.

“So what?” as a tool for making easier, more confident decisions.

There are an incredible number of apps, books, webinars, live programs, and other resources out there, every one of which is trying to seduce you into trying it. And since Shiny Object Syndrome seems to be an occupational hazard for highly creative entrepreneurs, it can be pretty challenging to hang tough.

Here’s where applying the voice of reason will make it easier to say “no” appropriately. Any time you feel the urge to spend time/money/energy on a new toy resource, force yourself to justify the expenditure by asking “So what?” Maybe this program will boost your Twitter followers ten-fold; so what? If you haven’t gotten any clients so far as a result of Twitter, why do you care if you get more do-nothing followers?

 “SWSWSW?”as a way to pre-empt discouragement.

This stands for, “Some will; some won’t; so what?” (Okay, so I sorta buried the “So what?”, but I still think it counts.)

Getting “no” from prospects when you want “yes” is an inescapable part of running your own business. “SWSWSW?” enables you to accept it and move on, rather than dwell on it and allow the disappointment to stop you dead in your tracks.

If you want to come from a place of real power, you can even choose to celebrate each “no”, since it’s getting you closer to a “yes”. (You do know your yes/no ratio, right?)


What did I tell you? “So what?” has a lot to offer when it comes to stepping into your personal power and growing your business. How do you see yourself using this question to improve your results?

Or are you one of the many entrepreneurs who doesn’t care about the answer to “So what?” nearly as much as you care about the answer to, “How do I figure out what to do tomorrow?”?

Being paralyzed with indecision is a great way to stay stuck in overwhelm. If you’re ready to get out of that yucky spot, maybe I can help. I specialize in providing the traction you need to get moving purposefully and effectively toward your big goals, and I provide the accountability that ensures you stay in motion.

I think it would be really interesting to get acquainted by phone and ask each other a whole bunch of “So what?” questions. You know, you can ask me things like:

And I have the chance to ask you things like:

So…Are you up for exploring the possibility that you and I could kick some serious business butt together? If so, just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me  and put “So what?” in the subject line. We’ll see what we see.

(Thanks to Daikrieg el Jevi for posting the image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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7 Responses to “So what?” as a growth strategy

  1. Pingback: Why should anyone care how smart you are? | Stepping Into Big

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