“What if . . . ?” “Yeah, but . . .”
These two phrases include only a couple of little words each, but they are very powerful words which can either change the way things are done or keep things stagnant.
Recently, I listened to a EdAdmin podcast on the EdReach Network. This third EdAdmin podcast (#15 on the above linked list) was recorded on February 1 and focused on reflections on Educon Philadelphia which took place January 27-29, 2012. This podcast is hosted by Chris Atkinson (@ChrisLAtkinson on Twitter). The regular guests for this episode were Lyn Hilt (@L_Hilt on Twitter) and Patrick Larkin (although he had technical issues during this podcast) (@patrickmlarkin on Twitter), with a special appearance by Dwight Carter (@Dwight_Carter on Twitter). These are all amazing leaders in education whom I’ve been following on Twitter for a year now. If you are not following and learning from them, I highly recommend you do.
The podcast starts with introductions, a brief discussion about the values and purpose of Educon and then each guest talks about one of their main take-aways from participating in this conference. There were some interesting take-aways and things that had me nodding my head throughout the show, but I want to focus this blog post on one take-away in particular that focussed on the power of our words.
Lyn Hilt talks about her main take away from the weekend being the power that lies in asking “What if…?”. This was a session facilitated by David Jakes (@djakes on Twitter). While I haven’t watched it in its entirety, you can see the video of the session here (be aware that the sound starts working around :45 seconds so don’t shut it off, if you are interested in watching it). In this Educon session, David Jakes discusses with the participants the importance of two little words, “What if …”. They talk about looking at things on a broad scale and then exploring the question, “What if …?” For example, in this podcast, Lyn describes how they explored the idea of hallways in schools and then they asked the question, “What if traditional hallways could be transformed into actual learning places? What would that look like?”. That in itself is a very interesting concept, don’t you think?
When examining ideas with the “What if . . .?” frame, Lyn talks about how you don’t put any restrictions on your thinking when you think in this way. Anything is possible. Too often, great ideas come up and instead of acting, people say, “Yeah, but…” There are always a myriad of excuses for why we shouldn’t do something, but we must not cave to the excuses and the “yeah, buts…”.
I love this quote by Lyn,
“Innovation will come out of the opportunities to ask, “What if . . . ? and think along the edges of your box, pushing what’s comfortable. That’s when new ideas emerge.”
Isn’t that powerful? And so true!
While I enjoyed listening to the entire podcast, that was my main take away. We so often hear “Yeah, but . . .” followed by countless reasons why we can’t do something. I am so tired of the “Yeah, buts….”. I am so tired of excuses. These two little words “Yeah, but…” can stop innovation in their tracks. To make a real difference, we must remember the power of the question “What if…?” and keep that at the forefront of our minds and our actions.
How often do you find yourself saying, “Yeah, but…”?
How often do you hear yourself asking, “What if . . . ?”
If you are interested in truly making a difference, I’d like to suggest you try to limit (if not throw out) the use of the first two little words).
If you are interested in the show notes for this podcast, they can be found here.