What If…? and Why Not…?

A Contribution by former presenter and coach with the David Allen Company, Maurice Gavin

“What if you really could achieve the dreams  you conceive for yourself and your corner of this world?”

“What if you could overcome any obstacle set  before you in your life and in the lives of others at will and on  demand?”

“What if you saw every problem as an  opportunity to face yourself, overcome yourself and expand yourself without  fear or uncertainty during the process?”

“What if you could inspire others by your  example to change themselves for the better and to want to model your success  and your personal standards of integrity and excellence?”

As I write this I am doing so to challenge myself as much as to reach out to you the reader.

I have moved past

“What if”

and am now asking

“Why not?”

In fact, to be honest I am now saying to myself, if even in a whisper,

“Why not now? Right now?”

Regardless of what you do or think about this or anything else…

“What are the questions that are secretly  plaguing you from within?”

“What would you try anew if you were guaranteed  you couldn’t fail?”

“What is the highest level you could achieve across the  various spectrum of your life’s experiences if you were to intensify your  focus and apply yourself without regard for time required or the fear of  failure?”

What If and Why Not Right Now…!

Join the Conversation


  1. Mirrors a college commencement speaker’s excellent advice: As you make decisions in life, always apply this test–what would you do if you weren’t afraid? I’ve used it–it works.

  2. I am reminded of something I heard a while ago: Express all of your ideas. If they are all bad and fail, you are no further behind then when you started but if even one succeeds then you will be way ahead!.

    If the inventor of the bicycle gave up on trying to ride it, no one would know that it was possible. We learn to ride a bike by tipping over a lot of times. Eventually, you will stay upright. Stop riding and you will tip over again…

  3. What if I and the rest of my family emigrated to New Zealand? We would be looking to keep our present careers (teaching) but achieve a higher standard of living/quality of life for all of the family.

    Why not…I’m scared (I couldn’t be any more honest about it) that such a move will fail to achieve that better standard of living and that the move would upset my kids to a huge degree. The UK and NZ may share the same language and culture but exist on the other side of the world.

    I think that scare factor pretty much sums up this kind of challenge though obviously age comes into it as well. When I was younger I lived and worked in different parts of the world but emmigration is a big thing (for me).

  4. What if….Why not….That truly is the crux isn’t it? Much too often we live within our society-supported, self-inflicted “I can’t do that” space and convince ourselves that the answers to these questions (mainly all variations on FEAR) are too insurmountable and uncontrollable to get beyond. Thus we don’t try, or at least try very often, to rise above, move out of or otherwise get rid of this self-limiting perspective in order to do that which would fulfill us (and usually serve others) beyond our wildest dreams. What if…we fail? Then guess what…we try again. The only way to get rid of fear is to move through it. That is our challenge that we must direct ourselves to meet each and every day. The amazing thing about applying GTD methodology is that it creates an environment in which we can tickle our “what if” fancy enough times to where we just might believe in ourselves enough to try and that my dear friends, is what truly living life is all about. Dream, Believe, and Do… the very next action and keep that dream moving forward.

  5. I recently started a blog and found that pressing that “publish” button the first time to be one of the most daunting things ever. I didn’t even put my name on my blog at first, then it took a little while to feel brave enough to add my picture. I had nightmares about what my colleagues, my employers and my friends might say about my writing, my ideas, and my chutzpah! Pressing that button was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. More than anything, I find that I approve of my writing, my ideas and my chutzpah, and that’s the most important thing of all.

  6. MP, I have to say that I really appreciate your comment and how you feel. In my experience there are two kinds of people those that blog and everyone else 😉

    Having the nerve to publish your thoughts on a blog that is open to the whole world can be unnerving as you noted. There are so many “what ifs” that are staring you down. You named but a couple.

    One thing about this particular set of “what ifs” is that in this instance those scary “what ifs” come true far more often than you want them to and you just have to have strong enough conviction and a thick enough skin to take the lumps and keep moving forward.

    As an example imagine having almost an entire community disagree with what you said and let you have it without mercy… I’ve lived through that one more times than I want to remember; here’s just one example: http://www.gtdtimes.com/2008/05/18/cultured-code-makes-a-critical-error-with-things/

    Now before you Cultured Code advocates beat me up again please understand that I have already recanted much of what I said here and further agree in retrospect that it was too alarmist, I merely post a link to it here for the benefit of the original commentator so that he can see the reality of one of the scarier “what ifs”. No need to make it scarier than it already is, okay?

    See, MP, even now I’m still apologizing just to head off another beating!

    The good news is that I lived to fight another day and I am still posting away and preparing myself for the next time a big hairy “what if” becomes an all to real ohhh nooo!!!


  7. I would like to add another phrase similar to Moser’s quote. Dare To Fail. This was a phrase I heard the great adventurer Norman Vaughan say on a TV show about his 1994 expedition to climb the 10,302 ft (3,150 m) Mount Vaughan. He was 88 years old.

    Vaughan realized that if he didn’t risk failure he would never have explored the antarctic, to participate in the iditarod and other adventures. I realized that at the time that some of the reasons I did not do things was I didn’t want to fail. Not asking yourself “what if… I fail” is very liberating.

    Shawn Wright | ReSolutions

  8. I have a 3 yr old and a 5 yr old – both boys. As soon as I started reading your challenge, they shot into my mind like a flare gun!

    – What would I do if they were watching me every step of the way?

    – What would I be the proudest doing knowing I was handing them their truest education – role modeling?

    – Beyond even my doing, what thoughts would I have if I knew they could hear them?

    – What feelings and emotions would I allow myself to have if they knew intimately what I was feeling?

    Man oh man! This has stopped me in my tracks! I am deeply moved.

    Be well,
    Doug Miller

    PS: You can meet them/us at jackandowen.shutterfly.com

  9. For me, right now, the scariest thing is the process of allowing myself to feel my feelings and to let them guide me to identify my needs.

    For me, those are the first steps in my own process. When I’ve done that, then I can ask the question “What does it look like when that need is met.” Once I do that, then the Natural Planning model kicks in, and I can identify the Next Actions I need to take to reach that place where my need is met.

    Sounds simple, but I find the first steps very scary, and having what I like to call “a diverse ecosystem of honest friendship” helps a lot. They encourage and challenge me to ask they scary questions in a safe, supportive environment.

  10. In answering the question, “What would you try again, if you couldn’t fail:” Once again, I am trying to reorganize my life. This usually happens quarterly, but GTD has taken it to a new level this summer. I am a hospice nurse and log alot of hours on the road. To help with the monotony I listen to random books on CD, and picked up GTD at our local library. It immediately started my changing not just my thoughts, but also details of my life. I am trusting that I won’t fail in this endevor. So . . . I bought manila file folders, asked and received a desk for my birthday, bought a file cabinet, and next paycheck will buy a Brothers labeler and office chair. I convinced my husband to give up part of his football themed basement, and am setting up shop. So, what do I hope to achieve, if I allow myself to intensify my focus and apply myself without regard to time required or fear of failure? I hope to achieve no stress with finances. I hope to feel good about my accomplishments each day, whether I do anything new or not. I hope to keep connections with family and friends in a way that will be meaningful and fun. I hope to take more time to have fun. I hope to enjoy my new puppy. I hope to bring hope and life to my patients and their families, even at the end of one life. I hope for frequent feelings of creative energy and powerful communication skills. I hope for a household as clean and organized as a ship’s captain’s room. I hope for clear and clean space in my brain, so that I can sleep well at night. I hope for integrity and excellence in all I do. That’s where I’m at. By the way, this office discount store sold me a nice metal file cabinet with a ding in the side for only $25.00. When I went to put my files in it, I discovered that it was a legal size. My file folders are regular, not hanging, and normal sized. Will it work?

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