“What if this were not a hypothetical question?”
I love to ask questions.
When I was a tyke I like to drove my folks bug-nuts with the “Why, Mommy? Why, Daddy? Why? Why? Why?” questions that never much seemed to end.
Even now as I approach my fourth decade I still tend to get conversations rolling by asking questions that I may or may not think I’ve got an answer for. I’m not in the teaching profession but I love seeing the light bulb go off when someone I’m talking with “gets it.”
I have a Brazilian friend who said there is a Portuguese phrase for that light bulb moment. It escapes me right now but I remember the English translation: “nickel down”. He told me it came from the old vending machines they used to have South of the Equator. You didn’t get whatever you were trying to buy from the machine until the nickel dropped down.
My mom’s a high school biology teacher still, so maybe I come by it genetically. I don’t know.
One big reason questions are so wonderful is that they force us to think. And thinking can keep us young.
Not only that, but thinking through questions and problems and scenarios can help prepare us for times of crisis.
I remember we were living in Florida when hurricane Floyd was forming up in the Atlantic. Because I was in marine operations in the shipping business I keep close tabs on the storm systems out there. Looking at the satellite photos of that storm I called Gorgeous and told her to start packing up. Because if the storm didn’t change tracks we were going to be heading out.
And that was 5 days before the storm hit the coast. Got a framed picture of Floyd taken three days after that phone call hanging on my office wall right now.
Fortunately for us packing up and heading out was fairly simple and straight forward. Why? Because we’d asked ourselves a question prior to that day.
What would we do if “the Big One” was headed our way?
For us, living right near the Florida coast surrounded by tidal marsh (our subdivision at the time was called “Marsh Lakes” ) the question was not hypothetical. The danger was real. In 18 years of living in the Southeast I’ve run from about a half a dozen storms. I’ve also ridden out a couple doozies onboard ships. I’ve seen their destructive power up close and personal.
Therefore we treated the question much more seriously than a hypothetical exercise. We actually invested the effort it took to come up with a workable plan. And because of the way we treated the question, facing the reality was not nearly as big a deal when the time came as it was for many other folks.
How You Respond Makes a Difference
How do you respond when you see a question?
Many people just gloss over it with a little, “Hmmph.” And then they go about their business.
Other folks don’t even notice that a question was asked.
If you fall into one of those categories you may very well one day end up like a friend of ours. She grew up in that coastal Florida town, lived there all her life, and never even thought about “the Big One.”
When it eventually came she was in a tight spot. She was seriously stressed out to say the least.
Fortunately we were on top of our game well enough that while I sorted out the ships I had to get out of the way of the storm at work Gorgeous went over and adapted our plan to their situation. It worked out that our friend got some help from us to get her and her infant baby out of harms way. And her cat. And her dog. And her Vietnamese pot-bellied pig.
We brought the whole zoo (plus our own cat) along with us to higher ground.
The Choice is Yours
So the next time someone asks you a challenging or difficult question you have a choice.
You can blow it off and hope you never face that situation in reality. Or, if you do, that a good friend will come a long and bail you out if you ever get in that jam.
Or you can think about it as if it really wasn’t a hypothetical question and work out how you’d respond for real. Then if you ever find yourself in that situation you will be way ahead of the game. And folks will appreciate how well you respond when things around you start falling apart. Trust me.
But that’s just the Way I C it.
–Chris Cree, SuccessCREEations.