Moving To Next


Dr. Michael Jenkins is a long-time colleague with tremendous insight into issues involving leadership and self-development. LeaderShift Authentic Insights, Inc. is proud to featured him here as a guest blogger. We hope you will enjoy the benefit of his experience.- Jennifer Eggers

Ever feel stuck? Unable to act? Unsure about what you should do next? Or, maybe you feel hurt, angry, or disappointed and don’t want to do anything at all. At one time or another most of us struggle with moving forward, or, as I sometimes refer to it, moving to next. 

Often, being stuck is a complex combination of intellectual knowledge, emotional turmoil, and even physical distress. How does this show up in life? Perhaps a project you are leading is falling apart and your team is performing poorly. Maybe that hoped for promotion did not come through and you are wondering where your career is headed. A close relationship could have dissolved.

I was watching my son’s youth baseball game recently and the umpire made a close call. Several players on one team felt the call was wrong and were visibly upset. Quickly, a few parents began shouting, “Next play, next play.” It may seem like a simple example (as adults we like to believe that things are much more complicated for us and our lives) but isn’t that the crux of the matter – get up, dust yourself off, and make the next play.

Dr. Michael JenkinsSo, how do we get to next? Do we need to analyze the situation and determine what went wrong and what needs to be done? Maybe. Do we need to deal with our emotions over what happened and try to balance our reactions? Perhaps. Do we need to get some rest and improve our diet? Could be. I would like to suggest a simple framework for getting back on track and moving to next. There may be more complex issues that will need to be dealt with later but, for now, I am interested in how you can become productive again in a short period of time.

A few years ago, I picked up this simple framework of three questions to ask yourself (I have also used this approach in coaching others) when things have gone off-track. “What?” “So what?” “Now What?”

The first question is “What?” So, what happened? We are looking for facts, not assigning blame or interpreting motives. Stated as simply as possible, what went wrong? Did a client leave the firm? Was your position eliminated from the department? Or, was the runner called safe, when he looked out to your team?

Second, is “So what?” Here we are looking at consequences. What is the impact, focusing on the immediate? Loss of revenue from losing the account puts our first quarter targets in jeopardy. I will need to tap into my savings while I seek a new job. Or, there is a runner on third that we need to keep from scoring.

Finally, “Now what?” What needs to be done immediately to get things back on track? Are there expenses we can cut to offset the loss of revenue? I need to notify my network that I am on the job market. Or, the catcher needs to guard against a passed ball.

That’s pretty much it. True, there may be more complex issues to sort out. We may need to manage the performance of someone on our team. It may even be helpful to seek outside counsel and assistance in dealing with the long term fallout of the decisions and events. But, for now, we just want to get moving again. Whether it is only you, someone you are coaching, or the team you lead, when things are not where they should be, try asking yourself, “What, so what, now what?” I think you will find it to be a quick and effective way of moving to next. After all, who wants to be stuck?