What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


Despite commitments and good intentions, people regularly fail to do what they had said they would do. It is tempting to explain that their lack of moral fiber or their deep, dark intention to do harm causes these failures.

Most of the time, fiber and dark intention have nothing to do with it. People fail to follow through because unforeseen or unacknowledged obstacles get in the way. Obstacles such as misunderstanding the goal, not knowing how, misunderstanding scope, having too much to do, worrying about others opinions and reactions, and lack of various resources can stop people from acting.

We can dramatically increase follow through by asking two simple questions. Once we have discussed the situation and selected a likely solution, we ask

“What could go wrong? (Or, “What are the obstacles?”)

“How can we get past those obstacles?”

When asked, people surprisingly know the obstacles standing between them and their commitments, can come up with good strategies to work around those obstacles, and will be much more likely to follow through on their commitment.

So, ask.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Flооd via photopin cc

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