When an Amazon box arrives at the front door, it’s an exciting moment. Is it…for me? Boy, I sure hope so (having forgotten what I may have ordered in the first place). Generally, the thing in that box is the result of a decision process that was either minutes long or one that took months of research. Either way, taking that item out of the box both solves a sort of what-is-it mystery and also resolves a problem I decided I had. Either way, it’s a big shot of dopamine in my brain that feels great! Then fades quickly…what’s next?
We’ve had some really interesting meetings this year with several families who shared similar feelings to one another; they felt very uneasy about their ability to retire. In more than one instance, we learned of a big decision that had been made years earlier that led to a place where retirement seemed iffy to them. The worry, the fear, and the temptation to surrender were palpable. “What can we do to ease this burden?”
While each of these situations was unique, the results were similar. It turns out that the biggest challenge they seemed to face also took the shape of the greatest opportunity. What was the challenge? Laying it all out for someone else to see. In other words, waiting and hoping that the problem would somehow get solved on its own is what we all do far too often. These folks were no different than the rest of us; their problems just happened to be financial while yours may be medical or relational. In order for them to get the prescription for the ailment, they had to let somebody see everything, which can be terrifying. But once we saw everything laid out in front of us, the solutions revealed themselves, and seemingly insurmountable problems became very solvable.
At times, I think I would love to be in a profession that delivers a box to your front door. Maybe it’s a binder or a bottle or a bag that would resolve a problem for you. There’s something very immediate and tangible in that package. Instead, what we often deliver as our product is, in fact, a process. It’s a process that has the potential to make someone very uncomfortable before we ease burdens that may have become so heavy that they seemed impossible to lift. It’s a process that allows us to see everything in one place, maybe for the first time. It’s a process that, when followed through on, has the potential to help solve many other problems you may be facing.
I’ve said before that the best thing we can have done to us is for someone outside our immediate situation to ask us a really great question. One that makes us stop in our tracks and question our beliefs. When a question allows us to more clearly evaluate what it is that we’re trying to accomplish, clarity of outcome can become a possibility.
Maybe we should send people a-question-in-a-box for Christmas. You open your front door, grab the nice brown box, and open it to find a question in it that causes you to stop and take notice of whether you’re living in the way that you wished you were. It’s a ‘breakthrough in a box’. What would be your breakthrough question? What question, if I asked it to you, would cause you to stop in your tracks, sit down to ponder, and then finally decide to take action on? What question would take your breath away?
Sometimes the product is the process itself. And while I enjoy unboxing a new car charger for my phone just as much as the next guy, I’d also like to have someone I can trust help me achieve a breakthrough with a question that cuts through the noise. In other words, I’d love to clear the clutter rather than add more cardboard boxes to it.
All the best,
Adam Cufr, RICP®