Top Performer Perspective: Ask Why Not?
Robert Kennedy, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw, said: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
Top performers share Kennedy and Shaw’s perspective. They have mastered the art of seeking the possible rather than focusing on the easily attainable. That perspective is one of the key differences that sets top performers apart. Good performers set their sights on the visible horizon; top performers see farther and reach higher—and they usually achieve much loftier goals.
Asking why not? is a hallmark of top performers. This one simple question drives them to go after the big hairy audacious goal while also providing the impetus behind numerous small innovations that drive daily efficiency and a cycle of continuous improvement. This perspective shows up in practically everything top performers say and do: the words they use to express their goals, the way they describe their tasks, and, most importantly, the measures they use to define their success.
Why not change your horizon? Why not set goals and associated measures that stretch your thinking—that turn even the most mundane tasks or roles into personal challenges that toss the visible horizon aside and ask, as Shaw and Kennedy did, “Why not?”? In our work with top performers, we find that this mindset lies behind many of the outcomes that top performers produce.
Question to ponder:
- When was the last time you or your organization asked why not?