All of us have been in discussions that were clearly about the future…but we just couldn’t shake loose from the one person locked in the present.  Or even worse, still in the past. 

If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters by Peter Block, you are really missing a good thing.  I had heard about it.  Even checked it out on Amazon.  Two weeks ago Mike over at White Rabbit Group mentioned it in a comment…and I finally got to the tipping point.  What a great book!  There’ve been a handful of these over the last few years. The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership was one.  The Effective Executive was another.  Great books that end up with lots of underlining, starred sections, quotes written out on the front flap (and back).

I have to say, I was immediately intrigued by the title: The Answer to How Is Yes.  It has a very "take the pebble from my hand, Grasshopper" quality.  And the book is full of that kind of wisdom.  The first chapter jumps right into a family of how questions that are "always reasonable, but when asked too soon and taken too literally may actually postpone the future and keep us encased in our present way of thinking."  This ground is so familiar and yet once you’ve read a few pages you can see where the book is going…and you can’t wait to get there.  For instance, if you’ve ever made a presentation to a board you’ve heard the question, "How long will it take?"  Seems fair when you look at it.  Peter Block takes an interesting tack with it, though.  His idea is that the question itself moves us in the direction of answers that meet the criteria of speed…which is the wrong question.  Especially since all the evidence suggests "that authentic transformation requires more time than we ever imagined (p. 18)."

Wohh.  Take the pebble from my hand…grasshopper.

Postponing the Future
  • Glad to see you are getting value from Block’s book. And love your applications of his take on the “how” questions. I wrote an posting for MarketingProfs on those questions as brand killers. They do postpone the future too!
    Thanks for enlarging this conversation! Great posting.
    Keep creating, Mike