We can burn a lot of time and energy imagining things.
Not creating but ruminating, worrying, speculating. It usually takes the form of “I’m not sure what they meant by that.” or “I don’t understand what they are trying to do.” or “I’m not sure what they want.” Most often is shows up when a leader is speculating (yes, speculating, not knowing) why someone is struggling in their role.
I like to say it’s time to get out of Wonderland.
Wonderland — at least the crummy section of town — is the habitat for spin, where we roll the same question around in our heads, often magnifying and amplifying it to unreal and unwelcome distortions. Too often, we imagine the worst.
Why, then, don’t we end the circular thinking and just ask? Cut through the angst clutter and get to the issue?
Because it feels hard. And the reason it feels hard is because we buy into the premise that the truth hurts — us or them. We hear that the truth will set us free, but we stand back and allow ourselves to be taken hostage by fear and uncertainty. Far better, we rationalize to stay away from the difficult talks and questions, exchanging truth for some kind of emotional detente — an uneasy but safe place where confrontation keeps its distance.
The truth surely can hurt but mores is the path toward it — that crawl over broken glass, the tentative steps over unsteady rocks or the uncertain foray into the fog of relationship, trust, and motive that makes us feel so vulnerable, so less in control. Pull the rusty nail out of your foot sooner than later. Things fester.
It is a sign of mature, even courageous leadership, to know how to ask the questions that get to the truth — a truth that, frankly, both parties might be relieved to have revealed. Nothing like some clarity to shine light on the road ahead, and the ideas and positive energy that come with it.
Get out of Wonderland.
Because imagination is a terrible thing to waste.