I thought I was having a bad day yesterday, I was not. My boyfriend was having a bad day.
He was scheduled to take two flights to come home and arrive at noon. Key word: scheduled.
The first flight was delayed an hour due to ice on the plane’s wings.
After sprinting to the next flight and having them hold the door for him, he made the second.
A half an hour before landing they encountered a storm. Not just any storm, a storm that caused three failed landing attempts, severe turbulence, rerouting three hours away and the need for paramedics once landed.
He finally made it home hours later, safe and mostly sound. As he recounted the events on the plane, an old habit crept into my head, I began asking ‘why?’
Once I realized I slipped into a bad habit of asking ‘why’, I asked ‘what’.
Asking ‘why’ is asking for a definitive answer or explanation leading to a specific action: why did events conspire for him to make that connection and it turned out to be a horrifying event?
Not the best place to go, asking ‘why’.
On the other hand, asking ‘what’ is asking why something happened as a catalyst to something yet undone.
The ‘why’ to the ‘what’ is the determination of something happening to you or through you and the key to moving on in a positive way.
Let’s use another example closer to my area of expertise: you lost your job.
The company is downsizing and they decided to keep the bonehead with a lot less experience rather than you.
Asking ‘why me? I had more experience, I was better, now what am I going to do?’ is a finality. All events up to that time no longer matter because it is done. Asking ‘why’ from this perspective just helps dig your feet in the sand and get stuck.
You want clarity on the past, which is like staring at an accident in your rear view mirror trying to figure out how it happened as you are still trying to move forward – which will cause you to ram into the guy in front of you and create a whole new set of problems.
Ask ‘what next, now I have to do something else, so what is it and what do I do to get there?’ Asking ‘what’ is noticing and being impacted by the accident, but keeping your eyes forward and being aware of your surroundings so you can get to where you want to go safely.
The ‘what’ leads to big, ambiguous questions and lots of smaller nagging questions, that probably will not have an immediate answer. However, ‘what’ allows you to start creeping past the accident, unharmed.
Creeping past may look like realizing you need to start job searching.
And thoughts begin to flow:
- You need to update your resume.
- You need to start letting your network know you are looking so they can help you.
- You need to update professional sites and bios.
- You need to start looking for a new job.
- Maybe you want to take a break and decompress from a job that was way too stressful.
- Maybe you don’t want to go back into that industry.
- Maybe you realize you really hated your job.
- Maybe you see something that gets you excited, even though completely unrelated to what you did, and you decide to go for it.
The ‘what’ is freedom and empowerment. It gives you an opportunity to explore and act on things you would not have if the ‘why’ did not happen, and that makes you realize that huge accident was merely a flat tire on the side of the road, merely a minor inconvenience of an otherwise great drive.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
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