The Worst-Case Scenario

Worst-case scenarios are a waste of time and energy.

Words are powerful. Forget the worst-case scenario.

You don’t need a worst-case scenario. You need powerful words that speak your beautiful future into reality. (Click to Tweet)

Can you even imagine the following conversation?

Husband: We should take a vacation.

Wife: Yes we should. Let’s go to Hawaii.

Husband: That sounds great. Worst-case scenario is that we die in a plane crash on the way there.

Or this one…

Sue: Want to go to the store with me?

Laura: Sure. Worst-case scenario is that a drunk driver kills us on the way there.

That is how incredibly stupid worst-case scenarios are.

You could…

Sure, you could travel to a third world country on a mission trip and get amoebic dysentery…or be abducted by hostile terrorists and forced to denounce the United States, your religion, and your undying love for New Kids on the Block in order to save your life. But the odds of any of those happening are so remote and the positives from such a trip (spreading the gospel, providing love to hurting people, feeding them) so far outweigh the negatives.

You could start a business, start a blog, take that college course, get married, start that church or sign-up for that marathon. But you don’t because you or someone else planted a worst-case scenario in you. And the Resistance will do everything it can to make it a reality. Or at least make you think it can be a reality.

So you are so caught up in the worst-case scenario that it cripples you.

Why?

Because you say it is possible in the first place.

Imagine the conversations above. Their utter ridiculousness aside, would those thoughts not cross your mind as you are flying or driving? Of course they would. They have been spoken into existence.

“I have 10 million dollars!”

Well, no I don’t. I just tried speaking that into existence, checked my bank account, and will be going to work shortly, so speaking things isn’t exactly magical. But words are powerful.

You don’t need a worst-case scenario. Don’t even entertain the thought.

You don’t need a devil’s advocate (he is doing just fine on his own, thank you).

You don’t need to think of all the possible outcomes.

You don’t need a Plan B.

You need powerful words that speak your beautiful future into reality. Yes, you need realism (I still don’t have $10 million). But worst-case scenarios are not realistic.

Worst-case scenarios are pie-in-the-sky’s evil cousin.

But least pie-in-the-sky thinkers are doing something…they are taking action. They are chasing something. They are living.

No more worst-case scenarios. Deal?

Question: Are you allowing worst-case scenarios to cripple you? What can you do to stop those thoughts?

If you need help breaking bad mind habits and speaking positive words into your life, I’ve written a few articles on the subjects. You can find them here.

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  • I’m with you on this, Matt. I will have a more comfortable life because my writing and music will become more known and sought after in time. I’ll keep working as a speech teacher as long as I need to and be happy doing it, too. By the way, I’m going to start a weekly series about public speaking soon at my blog http://www.danerickson.net.

  • Nice post. You had me laughing at the thought of those first conversations. 😀

    Funny you mention having no plan B. That’s kinda where I’m at these days. What I’m working on right now really has no plan B so A has got to work. And it will. There’s really no other choice for it so I guess I’ve already done as you say and not thought up a worse case scenario.

  • Wade_Thorson

    Thanks for the different viewpoint Matt. It seems so often we are told when making business decisions to understand worst case scenarios and having a plan B. But as you discussed, I think that ends up becoming the focus point rather than focusing on what is truly possible.
    Looking at the postive possibilities will definitley increase your odds of being successful, this is something I talk about with some of my team that like to look at the challenges upfront rather than going in with the positive attitude.

  • We’ve done worse case scenarios in many situations and found out that even then, the “worst” wasn’t that bad. For example, we moved from New Mexico to Michigan in 2005. My husband had lost his job and was offered employment with a startup. He was promised a great salary and an opportunity to develop an innovative product. We jumped at the chance of doing something great and thought: “We’re moving to one of the wealthiest counties in the country, what’s the worst that can happen?”. (In the pre-recession years, in D-e-t-r-o-i-t… Hello!). We sold our house, packed our stuff and moved 1500 miles.

    Well, the worst happened. The startup didn’t start up due to lack of funding and we were unemployed for seven months. We lived in a high-end condo and… had the time of our lives. We were newlyweds, so we spent our time together 24/7, joined the high school gym where we exercised daily, we attended church together every morning and we found free events to attend, like concerts in the park, or the cheap seat movie theater. We made the best of it, found great jobs after some months of heavy searching, rented a nice house, made some good friends and enjoyed the ride.

    After that, we’ve never asked again “What’s the worst that can happen?” but “What’s the best that can happen from this?”

    Great post, Matt. Thanks!

    • Steve Pate

      wow Lily, thanks for sharing that!-(by the way I’m a native of Michigan)

    • I am with @disqus_OCuYs77zsq:disqus – thanks for sharing Lily.

      That is a powerful story. Tweeting it now :)

  • For a long time, I allowed worst-case scenarios to prevent me from enjoying and experiencing life. Just last year, I was wrestling with a leap of faith decision. I was struggling to take the leap, because I was afraid of what could happen. After prayer and some convincing by friends and family, I made the leap which landed me in Guatemala. Now, I’m planning a return trip this summer with my family. I’m glad I eventually made it past the worst-case scenario.

    • Love it Jon!

      I’m looking forward to traveling to Costa Rica, which holds so many memories for my wife’s mission trip there and is the home of our daughter’s namesake.

  • Steve Pate

    Thanks Matt for the post-I don’t have ample amount of time here but in worst case scenario I’ll come back with some good suggestions- HA ha get it.

    • Well played Steve. However, I am banning you from future commenting…just kidding.

      • Steve Pate

        Funny! Alright I’m back and this is cool, why? well, as i was working today I was thinking about your post, and your timing is awesome with this topic. because last night at my monthly commissions meeting at church, we had a couple come in, they shared and asked for help to go to Africa to a do short term mission with their whole family.

        Long story short, I asked them whats keeping them from 100% commitment and no lie, it was “the worst case scenario” attacking their passion. It so happens they have gone through FPU and their two oldest girls are in my next class tonight. I’m going to take the opportunity to express, and encourage them to NOT to worry about the “worst case scenario” thoughts!

        -okay Matt, did I redeem my self?

  • I call it “catastrophizing”. For me, my mind can create a full blown worse-case-scenario in a matter of seconds, down to the smallest detail. Before it got in my way, now I embrace it. When my mind starts doing it I know I need to pay attention to something.

  • Sometimes when coaching others there is value in walking them to the worst case scenario – which often is more built up in their heads – and what that would look like. This can remove some of the fear of trying something new. Totally agree, no point on living in worst case scenario land!

  • Ok, so allow me to play devil’s advocate…(I know, you said not to…but hey! you dont sign my checks :) )

    What if you use the “worst case scenario” as a way to say, “even if everything did go wrong (and it wont), I’ll still be ok!”

    Do you see what Im saying?
    I do agree with you though, if the “worst Case Scenario” is keeping you from stretching and growing, get rid of it completely! Great post.

    • What is the point of even traveling there though. I know what you mean…it’s a security blanket for some people. “Worst case is we break even,” or “Worst case is we have two mortgages for a few months.”

      But why even allow those possibilities to exist?

      I’m not suggesting we live in fantasy land. I am suggesting that planting negative or “not so bad” possibilities drags us down to those levels.

      Your worst case scenario essentially becomes a divider of the best case scenario. Whatever it could have been, divide it by the worst case.

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  • This is great Matt – so true there’s no magical power in speaking things – but – when we have enough courage to speak about our plans, often we also have what it takes to make them happen. It’s like a verbal commitment to the way we see the future. Things don’t always work out, but I would much rather be trusting God for good things rather than believing for bad things to happen!

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