The best that could happen
This weekend a year ago my mum was found passed out on her living floor by the police. It was both a shock and not, for it was clear two months earlier that she was in a bad way and still in denial about her drinking. One thing I asked myself at the time was “what’s the best thing that can happen now?” and that’s what I’m considering in this post. *
“What’s the best thing that could happen?” is a question coachees seem to really enjoy being asked. It’s a mind-opening provocation that invites us to tap into the best possible consequences and is one most people haven’t been asked very often, if at all. You might like to take a moment now to consider something that’s been on your mind, maybe a worry or something you’re unsure about. Depending on what it is, the question might be “If X were to occur what’s the best that could happen?” or “Now that X, what’s the best thing that could happen if I did Y or Z?”
I find when I ask it of myself and others our posture changes, we look more alert, we feel calmer and shows signs of being more resourceful. I see myself and others looking forward and starting to plan instead of fixating on backward recriminations – we get moving instead of staying still and stressed.
Natalie, a medic and researcher, found herself in unchartered career/business territory and in one coaching session she talked about applying for a social enterprise incubator run by Cambridge University. She needed to submit a short film about her would-be-not-for-profit-enterprise, and found the whole idea completely cringe-worthy. Knowing the extent of Natalie’s capabilities and the brilliance of her idea I said “we could film it now, in my kitchen and if we did, what’s the best that could happen?” Natalie reeled off a few thoughts and in so doing convinced herself making the film was a jolly good idea. Here’s Natalie talking about the Hertfordshire Milk Bank for neo-natal units:
Natalie has been accepted onto the East of England Enterprise Incubator run by the Cambridge University Judge Business School and I am delighted.
So I invite you to keep asking yourself and others “what’s the best thing that can happen?” And given the day today, it may be the perfect future-focused question for us all to consider as the UK begins the process of life outside the European Union.
* I started a story at the beginning of the post and human brains really dislike being left hanging so I’ll share something of what my brother and I have experienced this past year. The best that could have happened was a full recovery and mended relationships. Sam and I have muddled through with the help of his fiancee, our uncle and some friends. My mother now lives in a care home 200 miles away with alcohol-induced dementia (a condition, not a cat. Sorry, dark humour helps!) Her mental impairment caused by the final blast of binge-drinking has not abated but she’s not drinking and she’s always so pleased to see us on Skype. We’ve gone from mistrust, resentment and little genuinely affectionate contact to happy weekly calls. We are focussed on seeing this as an improvement on what was. To anyone affected by addiction I send you love, hope and patience.