When my children were young, I used the word “if” a lot.
“If you eat your vegetables, then you can have some ice cream.”
“If you do your homework, then you can watch some TV.”
“If you behave, then we can play a game of Candyland.”
I used the word “if” to put conditions around the situation. I used “if” to stay in control of the outcome. And I used “if” to gently shape their behavior.
I was their dad—so I did what I had to do.
But now that my kids are older, both in their early 20s, I cannot use the word “if” anymore. I cannot put conditions around their lives, or control their decisions, or shape their behaviors anymore.
My role as dad has changed. All I can do now is offer advice, provide support, and act as a safety net. They have to create their own “ifs” for their own lives.
So I have taken “if” out of my vocabulary at home.
Dad is not “dad” anymore—I am more of a confidant and a fan. I am a mega-fan, if you will. I do not mind the change, to tell the truth. Every phase of their development has been so rewarding; the same is true of this latest one as they enter their adult lives.
“If” does not apply anymore.
I am trying to do the same thing at work too.
When I was an entrepreneur with my own agency, I used a lot of “if’s” back then too.
“If we get this new account, then I will hire more staff.” “If we make our forecast, then I’ll upgrade all of the equipment.” “If we get this huge project done, then have a huge staff celebration.”
Back in the day, managing around “if” scenarios was my way of setting priorities and dealing with business needs.
In hindsight, I think all of those “ifs” held me back in some way. “If” kept me too conservative. Sure, the business was successful, and I was able to eventually sell it, but I can only imagine what my world could have been had I been more aggressive. Imagine what my agency would have been if I had dropped “if” from my vocabulary like I do now with my children.
I probably could have hired more staff more quickly to track down new business. I could have upgraded our equipment on a more regular basis, staying tighter to the tech curve and improving our work. And I could have created an even more welcoming and creative environment for my staff to thrive.
If only I had done then what I am trying to do now. “If.”
I try to be more aggressive in my decisions and let more go to my team. Instead of thinking longer and putting a hold on activities, I am trying to live more in the moment and move quickly on critical path items.
I try to make it no longer “if” we will do something, but “when” and “how.”
Now mind you, I am not throwing caution completely to the wind. I am running a business and I have to run it well. But I am enjoying this new personal outlook quite a bit.
It is nice not having so many “ifs” to worry about.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.
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