This is from a blog post by Seth Godin. The first part of it is here:
“One of the fundamental equations of our self-narrative is: If I only had more support, I could accomplish even more.
Part of this is true. With more education, a stronger foundation, better cultural expectations, each of us is likely to contribute, even more, to level up, to make a difference.
The part that’s not true: “If only.””
I focused in on that phrase, “if only.” How many times do we use that phrase in our own conversations with ourselves, and in conversations with others? I can look back and see hundreds of times that I have used it. I was always looking for more support and blaming others for not supplying it, and lamenting about how I could do this if only I had that, and I could do that if only they would do this, give me this, supply me with this.
You’ve heard the question, “is the glass half full or half empty?” The half-empty glass is “if only.” And, here’s the good news: The half-full glass is, “what if?”
“If only” is on one side and “what if” is on the other. They seem like the same on the surface, but they are as different as the glass being half full or half empty.
“If only” is all negative. It’s all about what isn’t right. It’s about what is wrong. It’s about what is not working. It’s about blame. It’s about the justification for not doing more. It’s about saving face. It’s about a certain reality. One might say, it is focusing on and wallowing around in “what-is.” There it is. This is what is happening. I can’t do anything about it because. . . What can I do? They won’t give me the support I need. It is complaining. It feels bad. It creates despair through powerlessness. It is all negative.
“What if?” on the other hand, is very positive. It’s the dreamer. It is using one’s imagination. It is conjuring up solutions. It is finding a better way to see things. It is joyful. It feels good. It is empowering to be able to see a thing complete, to imagine a problem solved, to imagine others participating in your dream. “What if” is a perfect way to achieve, create, and to feel better. It is wonder and delight. It is all positive.
“What if” created everything worthwhile, while “if only” is still waiting for someone to do something about it. It’s as easy as changing one word. . .
What if? Imagine the possibilities. They are endless!