I love what ifs. Especially when it comes to my own life. Here's a tiny example of some of the what ifs I think about from time to time.
At some point to the end of my college career, I started to realize there was this thing called the real world. I didn't know much about what I wanted to do when I graduated. The only thing that I really knew was that I wanted to be massively successful.
For some reason, some hidden part of my brain decided that there must be a book about how to be massively successful. This was an irrational thought for me at the time as I was so anti-books in college that I didn't even buy the required textbooks for my courses. So this thought about a success book was definitely out there on the random scale.
Around the same time somewhere in Seattle, there was a developer writing some code to perfect the search and recommendation functionality on Amazon.com. This guy (or girl) must have done a wonderful job, because when I searched Amazon's bookstore for "success," the first thing that came up was "The Success Principles -- How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" by Jack Canfield.
This book was the most amazing thing I read during my entire 22 years on the planet. This guy Jack was a genius. I think I actually read the book twice, so that I could go back and take notes the second time. I was hooked on this new discovered thing called personal development.
Fast forward to when I was leaving UBS to start my own company, and one of the most senior people at the company gave me a book -- it was Tony Robbins "Awaken the Giant Within." Without my love for Jack and his magical principles, would I have read this Tony Robbins book? Would I have listened to this branch manager or would I have just brushed him off as a kool-aid drinker?
Next up, a friend was throwing a free workshop on personal development. At this point in my career, I attended just about every networking event that was even remotely interesting. When I heard about this event, I was stoked. Then I found out it was really just a pitch to attend a Tony Robbins seminar for $500. That number seemed so unreasonable to me at the time, but something in my rat brain defied the logic part of my brain and I signed up. That 4-day Unleash the Power Within event was the best experience of my life. Without the branch manager giving me Tony's book as a gift, would I ever have made the decision to drop $500 on the spot after I just quit my job?
The list of things I now have in my life as a direct result of that seminar is amazing. So much of my current thinking about business, marketing and sales can be traced back to Tony and his teachings.
And so it's fun to play the what if game. What if I never decided to search for success on Amazon and what if Amazon's algorithm didn't match me up with Jack Canfield.? I honestly think my life would be drastically different than what it is today. Think about that the next time you write a few lines of code and get frustrated that you've just spent so much time working on something simple like improving the search functionality.