How to successfully explore your worst-case scenarios

Our monkey minds are weirdly magnetically drawn to obsessing about disaster

The things that keep people up at night are not their dreams, but rather it's their nightmares.

Our monkey minds are weirdly magnetically drawn to obsessing about disaster; things that could go wrong in the future, the worst-case scenarios.

Understandably a lot of strategy work hones in on trying to manifest our long-term positive intentions, ignoring the 'shadow' side of what we fear most.

Left unchecked - the mental maps of our worst-case scenarios can get really ugly and can literally blow up any chance of creating the future we actually would prefer.

'When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.' - Brene Brown

For this reason, it's very useful to explore our worst fears in a proper way; to literally shine a big spotlight on them so that they lose the element of surprise.

Here's a step-by-step guide as to how to successfully explore and deal with your nightmares:

  1. Physically write out what it is that you fear: Not by just jotting down a few bullet points, rather write out a detailed story of what's bothering you. Spend at least 20 minutes thinking about this and writing the story of how this thing comes about and how it plays out into the future.
  2. Respond: Next step, if the scenario had to play out as you have now imagined it, what will you do in response?
  3. Prevent: Now write down just one thing that you could do now to prevent your nightmare from happening as you have written it, in the future. Even if it's something really small, think about just one way that the extent of your worst-case scenario could be reduced.
  4. Prevention played out: Lastly, spend another 10 minutes thinking about and writing out how the one thing [point #3] that you might do now, to minimise your worst-case scenario, plays out into the future.

Our brains are wired to hunt for danger, but so often that potential, perceived danger is radically augmented by fear in our minds - taking on a life of its own and consuming our thoughts, leaving very little space for anything else.

9 times out of 10 our worst fears never manifest as badly as what we imagine, but by intentionally exploring our fears of what could go wrong, we arm ourselves with a plan of action and radically reduce the power of our fears to control us.