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Because “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”

November 29, 2016

I’m typically a pretty mild-mannered guy. I’m like Clark Kent without the secret Superman persona. My family has a history of drama. Some is little stuff: I went to five different schools in the fifth grade. Some is big stuff: I’ve watched family members appear in court in shackles to face multiple felonies. 

A lifetime of drama has done two things for me. First, it’s made me very good at crisis management. Many of my family members are. In fact, I think our family motto could be “We are at our best when things are at their worst.” 

The second thing it did for me was help me gain perspective. I’ve discovered that often a decision doesn’t really matter. Don’t get me wrong. There are decisions that matter. That are literally a matter of life or death. But, much of the decisions that occupy our day don’t really matter.

On Saturday I took a few hours and watched BYU’s last football game of the year. They beat Utah State. The game was noteworthy for a couple of things. One is that my daughter attends USU and my lovely wife and I attended BYU. So, bragging rights were on the line. The second was that USU for the third time in three years gave BYU’s quarterback a season ending injury. (Note to Taysom Hill: Never play USU again. . in anything.)

Brigham Young University is a private school funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Mormons. And the tie between the church and the school is very strong. Church leadership takes an active interest in the running of the school, and two past school presidents are part of the church senior leadership.

As a practicing Mormon, I believe that God cares what happens at BYU.

I don’t think God was watching the game on Saturday. I don’t think God ever watches football. At least not in a “He wants one side to win” kind of way. I think if we were able to ask Him about BYU football’s season results, His response would be “What’s the worst that can happen?” BYU won the national championship in 1984. That unexpected result was a direct cause of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) being established. The major football powers didn’t want to lose the national title to a private university from Utah.

But, other than that result, the national championship was not a significant event in the history of BYU. By that I mean, it didn’t matter. If BYU were to finish the season 0-13, I don’t think the work of the university and by extention any good that God could bring about through the school would be impacted in the least.

In our lives, in my life, most decisions are about as important as BYU winning a football game. Where does the team want to go to lunch? I’m fine letting someone else pick. It really doesn’t matter. In our new office, is my desk going to be next to the window or next to the boss’s office? Again, with either decision, what’s the worst that can happen?

That question, what’s the worst that can happen, has a great amount of power. Because, once I’ve named the worst possible result, I can determine if I want to spend political capital to try to influence the decision.

We need a new backup vendor.

What’s the worst that can happen?

We could lose all of our data and go out of business.

Okay, THAT is an important decision.

Contrast that with:

We are repainting the offices and they want to know should it be blue or white?

What’s the worst that can happen?

You’d be in an office with a color you don’t like.

I’m good either way.

The drama and trauma in my life has helped me to realize that if I can stand the worst that can happen, I don’t really need to worry about the decision. It makes for much more relaxing life.  

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

One Comment
  1. It’s fun that you literally picked paint color as your example of an unimportant choice. If you haven’t already, look up the definition of Bikeshedding. 😀

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