I’m dressed in rags and I look pale and haggard like I haven’t eaten or gotten a good night’s sleep in weeks. My wife has left me. My kids have turned their back on me. I’m homeless and wandering aimlessly through town.
Of course, I’m playing out this sad scenario in my mind. In reality, I’m sitting comfortably with my wife outside on our deck on a hot day in a t-shirt and shorts, enjoying the occasional breeze and sipping on a cold drink.
I had a big decision that I had to make recently and I went through all the possible outcomes. On one hand, I could pursue a high-paying job with a firm that I had a lot of ethical concerns, but had a great shot of getting or I could let the opportunity pass me by, keep looking, and keep my options open.
I weigh decisions carefully. I see the risks and challenges. I evaluate them closely. In my head, I played out what might happen if the worst-case scenario played out: I would be letting a good opportunity pass by. I imagine my life spiraling out of control until I was destitute.
When I told my wife about the worst case scenario, she laughed. My wife thinks I’m crazy. She might be right. For the record, I’ve long played out the worst-case scenario long before the TV Show This Is Us highlighted it in an episode last year.
In my own crazy way though seeing the crazy highs and lows, helps me look past the rose-colored glasses and instead understand what I’m facing and see the strengths and opportunities and work that’s going to be needed with clearer vision.
In this situation, my crazy way of thinking helped me make a wise choice. Two days after letting the role go, I followed up with a friend who gave me some information that he had just learned that supported my concerns. I was right to let the job go.
In the end, my gut showed me the path to—not the worst-case—but the best-case scenario for my family and myself. I can’t argue with that.