I want to talk to you today about ‘What If Syndrome’,
This magical mystery What If Syndrome is something that I think is incredibly common amongst people growing a business.
And it’s also one of the most likely reasons to stop people making the kind of progress that they really should do in their business.
Let me explain a little bit more …
Do you ever find yourself in that place where you feel as though you literally have a bazillion ideas for how you want to grow your business?
Ideas about things like … how you could expand your marketing, how you could reach more customers, how you could sell more products. And yet, you find that you don’t push on with those ideas because of the nagging, niggling little questions that pop into your head and keep holding you back.
First off, if that sounds familiar then rest assured that you’re actually incredibly normal.
In fact, you’re probably in the majority. But if you’re not sure whether this applies to you, here are a couple of very common examples that I see at the moment to give you a little more context.
The first example I see a lot is people who absolutely know that they need to be making videos on social media, or making more regular videos than they currently are. They want to be sharing more on their website, on their social media, on LinkedIn, but then all the ‘what if’ questions come in …
“What if I look fat, what if I sound Northern, what if I stumble over my words, what if it’s not perfect, what if people think I don’t know what I’m talking about?” And all of those are small, trivial things, and yet when you leave them inside your head to do their thing they can take over everything!
The second classic example I see a lot is real doubts about how and when to follow up a conversation with a prospective customer. Whether that’s a meeting, or a call, it’s that whole indecisiveness about “what if I follow up today and they think I’m spamming them, what if they just don’t want to go ahead and they can’t bear to tell me, what if they think I’m too expensive and then I force them into having that conversation?”
What if, what if, what if? This is the What If Syndrome!
So those are a couple of classic examples of how this syndrome plays out.
The good news though is that there are two simple questions that you can start to ask yourself in these situations, so that you can pull yourself away from all the doubts.
But first, I need to explain that what you’re reading here is the transcript (with 3 bazillion grammatical corrections and 46 ‘actuallys’ removed) of a video blog. So for the next paragraph please picture me speaking this to understand the full context of my verbal stumble.
By getting a clearer view on the reality of the situation rather than your own internal perceptions you can start to push back, errr, sorry, push past, ohhh, see that stumbling,! And you know what, I’m still going to leave that in here. So … by getting a clearer view on the reality of the situation rather than your own internal perceptions you can start to push back those little niggling doubts that are holding you back.
So the first thing to bear in mind is that all the ‘What If’ questions are just a form of fear.
And fear has several different acronyms, typically False Expectations Appearing Real, or False Evidence Appearing Real. But what it means is that you are playing out a scene, essentially, in your head of what may go wrong, of what may happen.
But it’s not real, this is just stuff that’s just going around in your head, and your head has a phenomenal ability to create a vision of all the millions of things that could go wrong.
The first question to ask yourself, whenever you want to do something but you just find you can’t quite push through these ‘What If’ questions, is what evidence do I have?
What evidence do I have in terms of these niggling questions and niggling doubts?
What evidence do I have that I’m going to stumble across my words, that I’m going to sound stupid, that people won’t like me on video? And the reality of it is that you probably have no evidence of that, it’s probably all in your imagination.
Answering this question should help you realise that, okay, this is false evidence. It tells you that you’re working on assumption, when you really should be working on fact.
Your business strategy needs to be based on fact, not on assumption!
And the second question, if that one doesn’t nudge you past quite far enough, the second question is what would you expect of somebody else in the same situation?
Would you expect, for instance, for me to completely re-shoot this video because I stumbled across my words in the middle? (I hope you readers are using your imagination well here!)
Has that absolutely destroyed the quality and the credibility of this video, or actually are you not that bothered, and if anything, do you think it just makes me look a little more normal, and down-to-earth, and approachable?
Or, what if you’d had a potential supplier come to see you, how soon would you expect them to follow up with you?
Would you be happy for them to wait a week, or by that stage would you be thinking, “well to be honest I’m not sure they want my business anyway.” And yet you could probably easily talk yourself into waiting a week before you re-contacted a potential customer for fear of spamming them!
So, by asking, what would you expect of somebody else in the same circumstance, that can help you to get a more realistic view of the situation and push past those assumptions and uncertainties.
I hope those two questions can help you overcome your own What If Syndrome!
I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below, or drop me an email. And if you know somebody else out there who is riddled with the What If Syndrome then please feel free to share this with them too.