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Positive Provocations: Why You Should Play the What-if Game

Try asking "what if?" to spark a mode of possibility and creativity.

I wonder what would happen if...?

Positive provocations spark new perspectives.

We all have times of feeling “stuck.” Whether in our personal or professional lives, it’s easy to feel held down by everything that is not happening and that is not possible. And when nothing seems possible, then it makes sense to keep on doing nothing. Not surprisingly, this mentality simply leads to feeling more stuck.

That’s where Positive Provocations come into play. To “unstick” yourself and get into a mode of possibility and inspiration, try using positive provocations, also known as playing the “What-If” game.

Positive provocations usually begin with “I wonder what would happen if...” and call for a positive answer to the question. They plant the seed of what could be and give you the permission to think outside of the realm of simply what is doable (or not doable). They encourage new ways of looking at situations in order to generate new strategies and more compelling visions for the future.

When used within a team, this Asset-Based Thinking tool also helps to build excitement and resolve. Research tells us that when people feel they are part of creating a vision, their ownership and commitment grow exponentially. So when each team member is involved in answering the “what-if” question and they see that their input matters, they are more motivated to contribute to making that “what-if” come true.

When I give executive workshops, I often start with my own positive provocations about leadership:

What if we as leaders learned to:

  • See more possibilities than problems?
  • Say more about “why” and less about “what” and “how”?
  • Do the courageous thing instead of operating out of the comfort zone?

How much more effective would we be? How much better off would our companies be today and in the long run? How many more would we inspire?

Playing the “What-If” Game truly helps you to develop your capacity for seeing and moving toward a positive and inspiring future.

I’ve shown you mine now you show me yours! What are some of your positive provocations?


Dr. Kathy Cramer has written seven best-selling books including Change The Way You See Everything, which started the ABT Global Movement. Her latest book, Lead Positive shows leaders how to increase their effectiveness through her revolutionary yet refreshing simple mindset management process, Asset-Based Thinking. Download her Speaker Kit here.

To read more of Kathy’s thought leadership, visit and Follow Kathy on Twitter at @drkathycramer.

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