And “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” are two well-known catch phrases used by Jeremy Clarkson on the ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Grand Tour’ motoring programmes.
Everyone who is familiar with the shows knows that as soon as he says it, some form of disaster is about to happen, and Jezza will probably hit something with a hammer!
But there’s another side to those questions that goes back a long, long way.
‘Some say’ – that there are lot of caveman traits in Mr. Clarkson, and they are right.
They’re right because there are a lot of caveman traits in all of us.
You see, our ancestors needed to consider these two questions all the time in their daily lives.
Caution and the ability to assess the ‘negative’ side of things and the possibility of something horribly negative occurring were what kept them going.
Kept them alive.
Which is why we are here now.
Albeit we’ve ‘progressed’ as a species, but those old caveman instincts are still there.
And we use them every day.
To stay alive.
When we cross the road.
When we buy and cook our food.
When we ‘lock up’ for the night or switch our intruder alarm on.
These are all practical things that we do to protect ourselves just like the caveman did.
But the thing is – we take it too far.
We start – and continue – to develop negative scenarios imaging all the things that could even remotely possibly go wrong.
We start to work out ‘probabilities’, often based on pure speculation, of what will ‘go wrong’ if we take a certain action or follow a particular path.
We go into detailed ‘risk assessment’ considering not only the likely outcomes but all the highly unlikely possibilities that may occur.
If the cavemen had carried out ‘risk assessments’ before they went out hunting for food none of us would be here now.
Sure, we do have to consider ‘what could possibly go wrong’ but it seems that these days this has become an obsession taking things down to the very last, minute, detail.
And then we miss the big things like volcanos going off!
Negativity and caution are quite natural but carrying it to extremes is not.
It becomes counter-productive.
It stunts growth and development.
It represses new thought and invention.
It constantly tells us – every one of us – that
- You can’t do that
- It won’t work
- It’s too ‘risky’
- It’s not ‘safe’
And so on, and on, and on . . .
So, how about you and I try this?
Let’s, like Clarkson, turn these two phrases around and make them positive.
How hard can it be?
Meaning – it’ll be easy, it won’t be hard at all, it’ll be a doddle
What could possibly go wrong?
Meaning – if there are problems we’ll deal with them, let’s face that problem if we come to it, let’s give it a go, let’s just get on and do it!
Let’s you and I see both sides.
The practical caution without being ‘negative’ and the positive outcome without being foolhardy.
Think things through
Use these two questions to help in your decision making
What could possibly go wrong, and how hard can it be anyway?