The Genius of Asking ‘What If?’ Questions

Again we feature a guest writer.  John Hittler, Father of 7, husband, difference maker, transformational business coach, generous, bold. Author of The Motivation Trap (Oct, 2018)  Featured writer for forbes.com

“Ever wonder how leaders change the world? It’s simple, really. They make declarations that do just that. They can sound something like this:

  • “I’m going to get into the best shape of my life this year!”
  • “Our team is building our second product, and it will be twice as profitable as the first.”
  • “We’re going to take the White House and change the course of history!”

Declarations can be pretty dramatic, or they can be simple and straightforward. But one thing is certain: Without them, nothing changes. We simply stick with the current paradigm or the old declaration.

Where, then, do declarations come from? The most effective place is a “what if?” question.

Why Start Things With A Question?

That’s a great question, really.

Questions literally open up (and close) pathways in your brain. Like an itch, questions need to be scratched. When a great question is posed, whether in a team meeting or at a family dinner, our brains race to answer them (or in the case of teenagers, avoid them like the plague).

Consider the relative power of questions that we hear often:

  • “When will you be home from the movies?”
  • “Where are we going on vacation?”
  • “How do we get this project moving forward again?”

With questions such as these, our brain knows pretty much what to do since there are similar precedents and experiences we have from the past. Our brain uses these precedents to find or quickly create an acceptable answer.

So why, then, is a “what if?” question so much different? And why do leaders and visionaries use “what if” questions so fluidly?

The Power Of A “What If?”

With a normal question, your brain quickly and transparently uses previous information, data or situational experiences to concoct an acceptable answer.

With a “what if?” question, your brain usually holds no previous precedent, paradigm or example to rely upon for an acceptable answer, so the answer heads to a different area of the brain. When this happens, we often say out loud, “Great question!”

“What if?” questions force us to imagine or create, often calling forth strong emotions. Consider the structure and possibilities of the following two questions:

  • “Where are we going on vacation this year?”
  • “What if we enjoyed our best vacation ever this year?”

Both deal with the quality and details associated with an annual ritual for many families, a great break designed for fun, relaxation and togetherness.

With the first structure, “Where are we going on vacation this year?” notice how your mind immediately conjures up options that are most likely known entities: perhaps a traditional family meeting spot or a favorite “comfort” vacation like a lake house or cottage.

With the second structure, “What if we enjoyed our best vacation ever this year?” you notice that the structure of the question produces a new mandate: “best ever!” That standard or mandate could certainly be achieved by the structure of the first question, however, it is not required. Hence, the power and the subtle genius of “what if?”!

When SpaceX was founded, which question do you suspect Elon Musk asked: “How do we create private space travel for individuals?” or “What if we create a private space travel company for individuals?”

The second question leads much more easily to a beautiful, powerful act, namely a declaration of a previously impossible (or improbable) outcome.

How To Start

If “what if?” questions are so powerful, when can you utilize them best? The answer is simple: Anytime when a change, large or small, is what you’re after.

Consider these areas/themes to ask great “what if?” questions:

  • Health: “What if I felt energetic, focused and ready to go every morning?”
  • Adventure: “What if I took the most outrageous adventure of my life this year?”
  • Wealth/Investments: “What if I had $5 million in liquid assets invested by 2025?”
  • Learning: “What if I finally learned to paint with watercolors?”
  • Team: “What if we doubled our sales this year?”

The list seems endless. Where the mind can conceive it, the question can be asked and then answered in the form of a powerful, world-changing declaration. Declarations have that power. Simply asking the question and making the declaration to change shifts your entire world and the quality of your life.

What Comes First For You?

If you are going to change the world, or at least your little part of it, start with one theme or category. Pick a simple theme that will pay big dividends. Health is a great one, as everyone can envision a higher version of vitality, energy, weight and strength.

Ask a simple question, like, “What if I were in the best shape of my life?”

You’ll transform your world more so than if you were standing still.”

Look At People As People

Our chamber hosts a monthly business education luncheon. This last month brought the owner of Salem company, Bob Dalton of Sackcloth & Ashes, who talked about using Instagram for business growth. He made some excellent points about the value of Instagram as well as some great tips on using it to its fullest potential.

However, what he closed with was potentially the most impactful thing he said. I asked him to give us some parting words of wisdom. What he shared with us had little to do with social media. He said the greatest piece of advice he could give is to begin viewing people as people as people. We must consider their identity, not their role in the community or the struggles they have or even their best qualities, we must consider them as a fellow person.

It may seem like semantics to say, a person who is homeless verses a homeless person. Or, owner of “business X” verses Lisa. Or drug addict versus person with a drug addiction.  Or, Republican verses Joe. But in reality, when we can think of people for who they are, we place a value on them. A positive value. When people have value in others’ eyes aren’t they more likely to respond well when disagreed with? In my experience, they are.

It may sound like I’m trying to portray a “Pollyanna” sort of reality where everyone thinks positive and the world is better. That’s not realism. But we can be real and kind. Next time you’re tempted to sling mud at a person because they differ from you, think of them as a person like you are a person. No better, no worse. Maybe, just maybe, we can take Bob’s second final word of wisdom and “start to focus on promoting solutions rather than just opposing problems.”

Dallas School District #2

Dallas School District serves a large geographic area of nearly 250 square miles. The students enrolled in the school system represent nearly half of all students served by Polk County schools. A staff of 169 licensed and 152 classified people work in six schools and one administrative building. The District also sponsors Luckiamute Valley Charter School (formerly Pedee School and Bridgeport Elementary)

They believe the school is one of the major institutions through which our cultural, political and social heritage is transmitted from generation to generation and the means by which the members of our society are prepared intellectually to evaluate and control cultural, political and social changes.

The primary purpose of Dallas School District is to provide opportunities for the full intellectual development of each child. The child has the responsibility to himself and society to purposely pursue the educational opportunities provided him. Dallas School District has a shared responsibility with parents and with other institutions and agencies for the social, physical, and emotional growth and development of the individual child.

It is an obligation to our children, community and country to institute those programs necessary to fulfill the education needs of our children and to provide the facilities, materials, technology, and staff required to do so.

Dallas School District is working hard to shape the future.

https://www.dallas.k12.or.us/

The Outward Mindset

An outward mindset will greatly impact how we negotiate our world and the impact we will have. An outward mindset helps us to see the world as it is and not how we imagine it to be. An outward mindset doesn’t come naturally though. We have to consciously change how we think about the world and about others.

In The Outward Mindset, the Arbinger Institute reports that “the biggest lever for change is not a change in self-belief but a fundamental change in the way one sees and regards one’s connections with and obligations to others.”

Moving from an inward mindset to an outward mindset is more than a surface adjustment or behavioral change alone. It requires a change in how we see and think about others. How we see and respond to others is not so much about them as it is a reflection of what is going on inside of us. We often fixate on other’s shortcomings so we don’t have to deal with our own.

Arbinger has discovered that those who consistently work with an outward mindset follow a pattern. They:

· See the needs, objectives, and challenges of others (Create opportunities for people to see each other so they can begin to talk.)

· Adjust their efforts to be more helpful to others (“Real helpfulness can’t be made into a formula. To be outward doesn’t mean that people should adopt this or that prescribed behavior. Rather, it means that when people see the needs, challenges, desire, and humanity of others, the most effective ways to adjust their efforts occur to them in the moment. When they see others as people, they respond in human and helpful ways.”)

· Measure and hold themselves accountable for the impact of their work on others (“Measuring one’s impact requires nothing but a willingness to stay in regular conversations with others about whether they feel one’s efforts are helping them or not.”)

An outward-mindset begins with you. “While the goal in shifting mindsets is to get everyone turned toward each other, accomplishing this goal is possible only if people are prepared to turn their mindsets toward others with no expectation that others will change their mindsets in return. This capability—to change the way I see and work with others regardless of whether they change—overcomes the biggest impediment to mindset change: the natural, inward-mindset inclination to wait for others to change before doing anything different oneself.” This of course, is true leadership.

The chamber office is carrying this book. Stop by and purchase your copy today to learn how you and your organization can benefit from building an “outward mindset”.

Member Advocacy

There are many external factors that can affect your business. It is common for managers and owners to assess each of these factors closely. The aim is always to make better decisions for the firm’s progress. Some common factors are political, economic, social, and technological.

The political factors affecting business are often given a lot of importance. Several aspects of government policy can affect business. All firms must follow the law. Managers must find how upcoming legislations can affect their activities. Politics can add a risk factor and lead to major loss. You should understand that the political factors have the power to change results.

Increase or decrease in tax could be an example of a political element. Your government might increase taxes for some companies and lower it for others. The decision will have a direct effect on your business. So, you must always stay up-to-date with such political factors. Government interventions like shifts in interest rate can have an effect on the demand patterns of a business.

The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce provides business advocacy by:

  • Public Policy Committee.
  • Advocacy Breakfast.
  • Legislative Call to Action.
  • Political Corner.
  • Keeping apprised of legislative bills that affect our Chamber Members and advocating on our Chamber Members behalf.

Networking & Education

Networking is one of the most significant skills that you could learn in order to make your business a success story. The majority of business owners believe that they can just start a business, and the clients will come. Any successful business owner will immediately tell you this is not the case.

Building a successful business takes a lot of time and dedication, so it is sensible to have a network of business partners and associates to draw energy from and keep you motivated. By surrounding yourself with people who share a similar passion and determination, you are more likely to move forward and achieve results. Business networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, get new clients and tell others about your business.

Industries are constantly changing. Continuing education is required for workers, and owners to stay current with the latest developments, skills, and new technologies that affect their businesses and their clients. Overall, your image will increase, as will your marketability, if you pursue continuing education.

The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce provides networking and education opportunities:

  • Wake Up Wednesday Morning Networking.
  • Young Professional’s Evening Networking.
  • Willamette Valley Greeters Networking.
  • Monthly Speaker Series Luncheon.
  • Mid-Willamette Valley Leaderships Summit.
  • Chamber 101.
  • Chamber Chatter e-newsletter.

Dallas Area Visitors Center

Last week, the Dallas City Council approved the city’s budget which included them keeping the entirety of the Transient Lodging Taxes. This means that the City will no longer contract with the Dallas Area Visitors Center for marketing of the Dallas area.

So, what’s next for the Visitors Center? Simple, we are going to continue to do the next right thing! This means we will continue to work collaboratively with the City in marketing efforts and in the promotion of city events. We will continue to be involved in other civic organizations and put time into providing the best information possible to Dallas residents, businesses and visitors alike.

Most importantly, the Visitors Center is going to strengthen our focus on drawing tourism to our great city. Identifying and leveraging Dallas’s assets combined with a strong marketing plan will drive people to see what Dallas has to offer. Tourism has a wide range of economic impacts. Tourists in Dallas will contribute to sales, profits, jobs, tax revenues and overall income in our area. The most direct effects from tourism occur in the primary tourism sectors; lodging, restaurants, transportation, entertainment and retail trade.

Simply put, the Dallas Area Visitors Center is going to continue working for you!

https://www.exploredallasoregon.org/

Forbes Coaches Council Shares 9 Pieces of Business Advice

  1. Research And Understand Your Market

Take the time to do market research and really listen closely to your ideal client’s needs. Get really in tune with them to know where they’re at right now: That is different to where you would like them to be. Take this intel and craft it into an irresistible solution for them to be able to get easier yeses in your business. – Penny Elliott, Pennycomins.com

  1. Put In The Hard Work

Starting a business is exponentially harder than another other job. Successful entrepreneurs need to operate well across a variety of functions: sales, marketing, finance, operations, HR, etc. On top of that, creating an enterprise from scratch requires creativity, persistence and continuous learning. – Justin Kulla, BusinessBlocks

  1. Mould The Life You Want For Yourself

You are the designer of your life. If there are parts of your life that do not fit well, you can make adjustments. Think of your life and career as clay on a potter’s wheel and you as the potter. Get a picture in your mind of what the masterpiece looks like and keep shaping toward that picture. – Bonnie Hagemann, Executive Development Associates

  1. Really Listen To Your Clients

Truly listen and empathize with your clients. Everyone is so interested in getting their own personal message across, that no one pauses for a moment to actually listen and hear the root of the problem or pain. Believe in listening 80% of the time, clarifying 10% of the time, and responding wholeheartedly and intentionally, is the remaining 10% of the time. – Stephynie Malik, ChiqueSpeak

  1. Learn With A Team

Most leaders settle for learning by themselves. They read a book or attend a conference by themselves. Good leaders learn with the help of a mentor. A coach can come alongside a leader and help the leader see things from a different perspective. The best leaders learn with a team. An old proverb teaches that where there are many advisors, there is much success. – Ken Gosnell, CXP – CEO Experience

  1. Focus On What Makes You Thrive

Be unapologetic and relentless with what makes you thrive. Many times, we are influenced from the outside world, and cloud our own desires for the sake of those around us. The sooner you are able to grasp this nugget, the sooner it will drastically change your world. – Neeta Bhushan, Global GRIT institute

  1. Play The Long Game

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of running a business, but you MUST carve out time at least once a week to take stock of what you’re doing for the long-term health of your business. That includes marketing, training, employee development, community engagement and capital development. Sound investments today will pay dividends in the future. – Jim Judy, Try Franchising

  1. Focus On the Rewards

This may sound cliché, but my honest advice is to go for it when considering starting a new business venture, despite the fear it may not work out. One needs to adopt the mindset that the whole journey is a big experiment and that “failure” is not an option, because ultimately it is learning and growth that we will get. Focusing on the rewards instead of the fear is the real key to success. – Noor Hibbert, This Is Your Dream LTD

  1. Network With Experienced Execs

Take any opportunity to network and learn from more experienced executives, as well as to be mentored and coached by some of them. Further, exposure to specific meetings, boardroom discussion, and strategic planning would be utterly beneficial. – Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/02/28/9-business-tips-every-entrepreneur-needs-to-know/#865788323463

Reason # 64,890,479,465 to Join the Chamber: Enjoy Low-Cost Continuing Education

Many small businesses, especially new startups, can’t afford the cost of attending a well-known conference, hiring training professionals, or even paying for online business courses. Luckily, your local Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce frequently hosts trainings on a wide variety of business topics, giving you a low-cost alternative.

One such event is our monthly education and networking luncheon. The monthly Speaker Series Luncheon is a great way to stay in the know and network with fellow local business professionals. Each month we have featured topic and speakers scheduled, with the goal of helping to keep you in the know and improve your business. Chamber Luncheons are on the 3rd Monday of every month, unless otherwise specified, from 12 pm to 1 pm.

Another such opportunity is the Polk County Young Pros. While designed as an after-hours social event with refreshments, prizes, and networking Young Pros does incorporate education. At least once a quarter Young Pros strives to incorporate topics that are of business importance such as online security, and the importance of public policy. Young Pros meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.

Finally, Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Mid-Willamette Valley Leadership Summit. This is a day event that is aimed at growing as business’ and as community leaders. Topics last year included learning how to implement proven methods for growing as a community of understanding, and opportunities for business’ in any field to work with the government. We look forward to announcing this year Mid-Willamette Valley Leadership Summit soon!

Dallas Retirement Village – Evy Nickel

Evy Nickel, a resident at Dallas Retirement Village Apartments, is a designer and innovator by training and osmosis. Some years ago a friend, who was ill, asked her to make something to keep him warm. Rather than the traditional blanket or scarf, Evy took it up a notch and made him a monkey! Stitched with love and filled with rice, these adorable companions can be heated in the microwave and provide gentle warm comfort.

Over the years, Evy made many monkeys that she gave to friends or contributed to non-profits for markets and bazaars. A group from her church would gather and make monkeys for hospice patients who gained comfort just having them to hold. Eventually, Evy obtained a patent for her design, started naming each monkey individually, and called her endeavor MONKEY BUSINESS ADOPTION AGENCY. The monkeys were made in two sizes – a larger one the “caregiver” and a smaller one the “buddy’.

With her move to DRV and the chore of clearing out a large house, she needed to decide what to do with her collection of materials to make many additional monkeys. Her decision was as innovative as only Evy can be… she gifted everything to the Dallas Retirement Village Foundation to use as a fundraiser. Residents were recruited to help sew, stuff and name monkeys, and the marketing began. Because all the materials and labor are donated, 100% of the sales go to Dallas Retirement Foundation’s Scholarship Fund. Ever since these adorable little companions showed up, they have been flying off the shelf!

If you would like to adopt one of these unique monkeys, they can be found in the gift shop of the Health Center at Dallas Retirement Village: 377 NW Jasper Street and also on campus in the main lobby of the Lodge Clubhouse and Village Apartments. If you take one of these lil cuties home, please know that you are not only getting a warm companion, but you are also helping the Dallas Retirement Village staff continue their education to become better caregivers and comforters.

https://www.dallasretirementvillage.com/