Leadership Tip #1: Stop asking “WTF?” and start asking “WTO?” (What’s The Outcome)

In life things happen all the time that are out of our control. Sometimes they are small occurrences like someone cuts you off driving or someone took the last cup of coffee without making another pot. Other incidents are bigger like an argument with your significant other or your employee called in sick AGAIN. Then there are the doozies like losing your job unexpectedly or learning that your child just got a DUI. In every one of those situations many of us would drop a WTF, sometimes to ourselves, and sometimes to others. However, these are leadership opportunities where a much better question to ask is WTO? – What’s The Outcome?

The main reason we ask WTF is because something happened that we didn’t expect. We create a story about it that usually has us placing blame, focusing on the negative, and talking to others about the situation. We allow that story to zap our energy, and quite often, we throw ourselves a pity party.

Instead, use WTF moments as a trigger to change the question to WTO. Your energy will immediately shift from a focus on what you don’t want to what you DO want. You’ll start to focus on the solution instead of the problem. In this higher state of conscious awareness, you can look for the positive knowing that it’s always available. As soon as you shift to a more positive focus, your energy rises and a solution comes much quicker.

For example, if my WTF is about the empty coffee pot, the answer to WTO is that I want coffee. The sooner I make the coffee, the sooner I get to that outcome. That one is easy, however, how often do you make a big deal over something that simple. These simple things are a great place to practice asking WTO.

What about your employee calling in sick for the third time in two weeks, and she doesn’t seem that sick to you? If you go into the situation with a WTF attitude, it will likely be a short conversation with you doing all the talking, and you will still have no idea what’s really going on. When you stop to ask yourself WTO, you get present and focused on what you want. The outcome is for this team member to come to the office consistently. The first thing to do is ask what’s going on to see if there is a reason she keeps calling in sick. When you find out what’s behind the behavior, you can take action that will get you to the outcome.

So, what about losing your job unexpectedly? That seems like a really big WTF moment to overcome. You will tell your friends how unfair it is, that you didn’t deserve it, how awful everyone is, and you will invite everyone to join you for your pity party. In some cases, you might just want to give up. As you continue to stay in this negative energy, you’ll continue your downward spiral feeling worse and worse, and of course, there are no jobs available anywhere. This is the perfect time to ask WTO.

The outcome can simply be to find a job to pay the bills. So often we think it needs to be the “perfect” job. It doesn’t. It just needs to be a job to sustain your lifestyle, and while you are working this job, you can look for a job that meets all of your requirements. When you let in your stories from the past, everything gets complicated. When you stay present and ask WTO, you just need to take the first step. The first positive step forward will then lead to the next step.

So, the next time you find yourself asking WTF, my coaching is to change that question to WTO and get to a positive solution a whole lot quicker.

If you’ve got a WTF going on in your life, and you need help figuring out the WTO, email me at barb@high5leadership.com. You are not alone.