What Was. What Is. What’s Next?

What Was: “That’s the way we’ve always done things.”

What Is: “Don’t rock the apple cart; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

What’s Next: “I wonder what would happen if we took an entirely different route…”

When you think about your own organization, what percentage of energy, focus, and brainpower do you spend in each category?  If you’re chasing sustainable success, What’s Next should become your mantra.  It is such a short and beautiful question that challenges the established norms and explores the possibilities.  It also has a built-in cleansing; a letting go of the past in favor of new potential.

If you want to shake things up in your career, company, or community, try a simple game: For 10 days in a row ask, “What’s Next?” 50 times a day.   Ask the question at the end of meetings, when you arrive home to see your kids, when you enjoy a big gain or a difficult loss.  Ask it when you finish breakfast or when you deliver that big sales pitch.  Ask it in the middle of creating your art, whatever your profession may be.

Perhaps you just landed a huge new client.  What’s Next?  Can you leverage this client to win 10 more?  How can you over-deliver to deepen this new relationship?  What changes should you make internally to best serve this new customer?

Maybe you’re dealing with a crushing setback.  What’s Next?  Is the challenge solvable, or is it time to move on?  What can you learn from the experience to be better in the future?  Is there any value you can salvage.

Or what if you’re just cruising along in autopilot mode?  Things are stable, secure, and you’re doing okay.  What’s Next?   You’re not built to play small.  If you’re feeling comfortable, it’s a perfect time to explore what you could change to reach your next level.  Now may be the perfect time for further education.  To ask for the big raise.  To start a new hobby or passion project.  To roll up your sleeves and volunteer.  To start the company you’ve always dreamed of.

History can certainly be a wonderful teacher, but it can also serve as a confining prison.  Learn from the past, but don’t let it shackle you.  Asking what’s next with religious fervor will allow you to unlock a world of fresh possibilities.

So I ask you dear reader… What’s Next?