In the last rule, I proposed that the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” can be a useful “reality check” when fear grabs and limits you. This rule goes from the opposite end.
My wife brought this question to my attention, and even if I tease her (when my son said he was nervous about a basketball game, my wife asked this question, “what’s the best that could happen?”, I suggested that my 12 year old son could be spotted by an NBA scout and called up!), she is right.
Too often, we get caught in the fear and dread. And while asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” helps us stay in reality, it can also keep us on the down side of a situation.
What about the upside, the opportunity? The question “what’s the best that can happen?” brings the upside into perspective. It provides an openness to possibility.
For example, you are thinking of that bungee jump. Your fear grips you, and you find yourself unable to step up to the edge and take a leap. So, you ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?” The outfitters have only stellar reviews, the cord is in good shape, the harness is secure. Given the safety record, it is safe to say the worst would be a little soreness tomorrow from the swing.
Still, you find yourself rooted in place, unable to command your feet to move. Now ask “what’s the best that could happen?” And you find you might just prove to yourself that you can tackle your fear of heights. You can get a huge adrenaline rush. You get a t-shirt. You get to jump off a bridge with no injury! Now, we are into possibilities.
In the previous rule, we talked about speaking in public, given how high this fear ranks. So, let’s take a look at that one. You have already established the worst that could happen, and you know you will not die giving the talk.
Now, what is the best that could happen? Perhaps you could make a difference for the organization? Maybe someone will see you give the talk, be impressed by your willingness, and give you even more opportunities. Or at a minimum, the best would be you face your fear, do the talk, and walk away more confident.
So use this question to balance the fear. It helps us to both test our reality (risk assessment in Rule 7), and think about opportunity.