I’m still in chaos about where we are as a society and where we’re going. Some of my friends are learning to live on a lower salary. Some of my consulting colleagues have trouble finding clients. Add all the civil unrest and all the COVID-19 unknowns, and nope, I can’t see into the future much.
However, I know how to create possibilities. So that’s what I’ll share with you this month. I’m an optimistic person. And I live with Drucker’s idea that the best way to predict the future is to create it.
The three possibilities are:
- Use “forward” language
- Invest in your learning
- Create small experiments
Possibility 1: Use “Forward” Language
I know a lot of people who say, “We’ll return to normal.” Or, “We’ll bounce back.” Or, “We’ll do it the way we did it before.”
I don’t buy any of that.
I don’t think we will ever “return” to the way things were before the virus. (Except for full airplanes. We’ll have full planes as soon as possible, if not before!)
Instead of “back” language, consider these questions:
- Do you think?
- Are you willing to try?
- How can we improve?
When I use questions like these, I can create possibilities. “Do you think?” means I can engage someone else thinking with me. (For you introverts, this might be in writing.) When I ask about being willing to try or exploring how we can improve, I create space for the other person to agree, agree with recommendations, or explain why not. We discuss together, imagining the future.
Forward language helps us consider what’s possible. Sometimes, we need to learn something before we can implement any possibilities.
Possibility 2: Invest in Your Learning
I often learn by reading books. And, when books aren’t enough, I take classes.
I’ve discovered that even when I think I’m an expert, I find something useful in classes. (I don’t take certification classes, but that’s a different story.)
I’ve had the pleasure of reading many books recently to find references for my Modern Management Made Easy series. And, I took a class about kanban.
If you’ve read any of my recent books, you might be surprised I took a kanban class—I teach kanban and recommend it. I learned a couple of key ideas in that class. Even better, I got to see how a colleague created a workshop where the students discovered by doing, not by listening. I had a blast.
Possibility 3: Create Small Experiments
Now, I have several “forward” ideas. And, I’ve invested in enough learning to start with an experiment. The more experiments I can create and learn from, the closer I am to creating that future.
I don’t have to succeed at an experiment to learn from it. In fact, I learn the most when I “fail.” I reframe “fail fast” to “learn early.” And, that means I look for smaller experiments that will help me understand the data. I’ve been experimenting with different toolsets for my writing. I’m learning what appears to work for me and what doesn’t. I’ve been able to experiment and learn in 15-minute timeboxes.
Might These Possibilities Work for You?
These possibilities might work for you, also. See how the forward language works for you—if the words change how you think.
How can you invest in your learning? If you don’t have a library card, I suspect you can get one, even now. Library books are the least expensive form of learning. (I buy books, but I admit to a book addiction.)
Now you’re ready to create experiments. While we can’t create experiments for society as a whole, you and I can create experiments that work for us.
That might be enough to help us through this chaos.