“If Only” – This one thing?

I travel to all corners of the country and irrespective of the location I hear the youth lament. Be it a metro or a small Tier-3 town, people widely use the phrase “If only” – and I am now beginning to think that they may not even be understanding why they are using it!

Every aspiring entrepreneur I meet and in fact every small business owner I meet uses the same phrase too “If only” – do they know what they are speaking? Are they thinking and then saying what they are saying? Not sure!

Over the last few instances that I heard people use it, especially the early stage entrepreneur community that I interact with almost on a daily basis – I decided to dig deeper to understand where this phrase is coming from and what are its effects. The results of my discussions were entertaining and mind blowing, not just for me but also for the entrepreneurs themselves. As we discussed why the entrepreneur was saying “If only” and we quickly realized that it seemed like a valid reason, a good rationale for why someone else was able to scale a business and why the entrepreneur in discussion could not. Being smart young minds, many of their reasons were valid and quite tough to prove otherwise.

So I led the discussion to why this “If only” reason was stopping them from actually growing? This line of discussion led to some fascinating discoveries. We found that entrepreneurs in their desperation had focused on the reasons stopping them (the ‘if only’ list), when in fact they should have been exploring potential solutions or alternatives. In most cases the entrepreneur started realizing that while the “if only’ option was valid and impenetrable, alternate solutions were not thought about. Now this seems too simple to be true – but the truth of the story is, it is! Once I broke the impasse in thinking along the route of the first possible solution being impenetrable, numerous alternate routes started showing up. Some of these again got on to the “if only” list, which required too many external changes to make change happen; there were quite a number of solutions where the entrepreneur could move ahead and make growth happen.

While I do agree that many of us feel that “if only” we had what someone else had, we would have also scaled; the truth is, most of them were in our situations and did not care to get stuck with the “if only” syndrome. It is because they moved beyond the “if only” that we see them and say “if only”!

The next time you find yourself saying “if only”, think about it differently!


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