When my children were young, I used the word “if” a lot
“If you eat your vegetables, then you can have some ice cream.” “If you do your homework, then you can watch some TV.” “If you behave, then we can play a game of Candyland.”
I used the word “if” to put conditions around the situation. I used “if” to stay in control of the outcome. And I used “if” to gently shape their behavior.
I was their dad -- so I did what I had to do.
But now that my kids are older, both in their early 20s, I can’t use the word “if” anymore. I can’t put conditions around their lives, or control their decisions, or shape their behaviors anymore.
My role as dad has changed. All I can do now is offer advice, provide support, and act as a safety net. They have to create their own “ifs” for their own lives.
So I’ve taken “if” out of my vocabulary at home.
Dad isn’t “dad” anymore -- I’m more of a confidant and a fan. I’m a mega-fan, if you will. I don’t mind the change, to tell the truth. Every phase of their development has been so rewarding; the same is true of this latest one as they enter their adult lives.
“If” doesn’t apply anymore.
I’m trying to do the same thing at work too.
When I was an entrepreneur with my own agency, I used a lot of “if’s” back then too.
“If we get this new account, then I’ll hire more staff.” “If we make our forecast, then I’ll upgrade all of the equipment.” “If we get this huge project done, then have a huge staff celebration.”
Back in the day, managing around “if” scenarios was my way of setting priorities and dealing with business needs.
In hindsight, I think all of those “ifs” held me back in some way. “If” kept me too conservative. Sure, the business was successful, and I was able to eventually sell it, but I can only imagine what my world could have been had I been more aggressive. Imagine what my agency would have been if I had dropped “if” from my vocabulary like I do now with my children.
I probably could have hired more staff more quickly to track down new business. I could have upgraded our equipment on a more regular basis, staying tighter to the tech curve and improving our work. And I could have created an even more welcoming and creative environment for my staff to thrive.
If only I had done then what I am trying to do now. “If.”
I try to be more aggressive in my decisions and let more go to my team. Instead of thinking longer and putting a hold on activities, I’m trying to live more in the moment and move quickly on critical path items.
I try to make it no longer “if” we will do something, but “when” and “how.”
Now mind you, I’m not throwing caution completely to the wind. I’m running a business and I have to run it well. But I’m enjoying this new personal outlook quite a bit.
It’s nice not having so many “if’s” to worry about.