There was an article in our local paper featuring an interview with several exchange students who are studying at area high schools. The students were asked for impressions about their experiences in the States, including their thoughts on the upcoming election.

One astute student said that he noticed how candidate statements went to the extremes. “There’s no such thing as ‘maybe’ in the promises here”, said Akshaj Shah from India.

It reminded me of the book Getting to Maybe, a decade-old Canadian manifesto about how to stimulate social innovation. I have always loved the premise of the book and the spirit of compromise that is embodied in the title.

As authors Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman and Michael Quinn Patton describe:

“Maybe” so accurately describes our fundamental relationship to the world. It is a relationship in which time is one of the critical dimensions — a relationship to what is ahead, a relationship that is constantly unfolding…

Maybe” comes with no guarantees, only a chance. But “maybe” has always been the best odds the world has offered to those who set out to alter its course…to find a new land across the sea, to end slavery, to enable women to vote, to walk on the moon, to bring down the Berlin Wall. 

“Maybe” is not a cautious word. It is a defiant claim of possibility in face of a status quo we are unwilling to accept.

Certainly our legislators and legislators-to-be would be well advised to incorporate more use of “maybe” in their language and behaviors. But they are not the only ones. Where can you infuse “maybe” into your thinking? Maybe it will help you embrace new possibilities in your world.

— beth triplett
@leadershipdots

Source: Exchange students learn about language, school, Big Macs by Allie Hinga in the Telegraph Herald, October 11, 2016, p. 1A

Getting to Maybe: How the world is changed by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman and Michael Q. Patton, Vintage Canada, 2006

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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