What You Gonna Do?
The question that helped Richard Pryor get clean is also the question I was asked recently when a project was not going well. At the time I felt that the decision was out of my hands - that others would decide its fate by either giving it a green light or letting it wither on the vine. I had not even considered that I still had a say. Being asked "what you gonna do" properly reframed it in my mind. I still had a say in the matter, decisions to make. (Incidentally, it seems to work best if the question is mentally posed in the Jim Brown baritone.)
At the time I was quite tired of the project, and would have been happy to let it fold. But there is something about that persistent question (it was only asked once but mentally Jim Brown was hounding me and asking repeatedly) that did not seem to be tolerant of letting it fold. What you gonna do?
I had already made numerous adjustments. Everyone seemed to support the idea, and the project is worth pursuing. The more I thought about it the more it became clear that the answer was to push past institutional inertia. So how to do that? Tony Robbins has said that it's not important initially to know how you are going to create a result: what is important is to decide that you will find a way, no matter what. Again, what you gonna do?
I decided that, because it seemed to be working so well on me, I should start gently prodding the project forward by asking the same question of others. I now count "What you gonna do" as one of the most powerful tools at my disposal.
Every negative outcome is an opportunity: to quit, to tweak, to pivot, or to double down. What you gonna do?