Not too bad? My challenge to you…

How are you?

If your instinctive response is ‘not too bad’ then this post is for you. I’m hoping it brings you greater energy and happiness.

You see, ‘Not too bad’ is a dismissive response. You’re indicating to the person asking the question that you’re not willing to share or engage in their interaction. Think about what it actually means…you’re saying that you’re not dead, dying or your life hasn’t been completely destroyed. Do you want pity or a good conversation? You’re better than that.

It’s time to reprogram your instinctive response.

Now draw a vertical mental line representing the quality of life index with ‘bad’ and ‘too bad’ at the bottom. You can fill in the gaps above that all the way up to your ultimate nirvana. There’s a whole lot of space above ‘bad’ for you to talk about. By focusing on the bottom you’re dragging the interaction down, you’re aiming low, very low.

What’s wrong with the mid or top of the index? Let’s aim up there and if you’re sipping a skinny, decaf, almond milk latte with a low fat almond croissant in some hipster cafe while your two year old is smashing down a low fat, babyccino with extra chocolate sprinkles playing candy crush on their new iPhone X then I think you’re probably doing OK, you’re certainly not dead! You could be somewhere well above the ‘bad’ mark on the quality of existence index.

So here’s my challenge to you?

Be honest. It’s that simple. You’re not here for long. No time for dragging the conversation down at the start. Next time someone asks how you are, think about where you really are on the ‘quality of existence index’.

Perhaps reset your instinctive answer and compare yourself to the dead, tortured, starving or recently diagnosed with a terminal illness – use that to re-calibrate your ‘bad’ because that’s stuff’s hardcore and some people are there right now, truly suffering.

I re-calibrated some time ago and on a tough day I’m still pretty close to the top. I consider myself ‘exceptional’ by comparison to all the things that could go wrong in my existence. I’m not charmed. I’ve had bad, sad and mad moments and I could seek pity with a ‘not too bad’. But here’s the rub…

…when I respond with “exceptional” something amazing happens. My mood shifts to be more positive, I engage my ‘can-do’ brain and the person I’m talking to lifts their mood too, starts thinking positively and good things happen.

I recently challenged the managing partners of leading Adelaide Law Firms over lunch with my ‘Exceptional Challenge’. They got the point and one asked, quite rightly so, ‘what if I’m not exceptional, what if I’ve had some bad news or just not feeling great?’.  It’s a solid point. Here’s my tip if you’re not exceptional – be honest.

Let’s be honest, with ourselves and others. Let’s raise the communication bar well above “not too bad”. And if someone answers with ‘not too bad’ express your concern for their welfare with “sorry to hear that, anything I can do?”

For the next two weeks I challenge you:

When someone asks how you are, think about where you are on your quality of existence scale and if you’re up toward the top go with:

  • exceptional
  • fantastic
  • awesome
  • energized
  • buzzing
  • excited

If you’re under the pump then try:

  • fantastically challenged
  • heavily engaged in some awesome projects
  • doing my best work
  • smashing through a solid task list

Take control early and set a positive tone and you, your friends, colleagues and family will all benefit.  Commit to this for the next two weeks.

I will promise you that you will experience better conversations, more engaged listeners and more positive interactions.

Challenge your friends, family, colleagues and lift your network through the ‘exceptional challenge’.

Go on…I dare you! Be exceptional!

I’d love to hear how you go.


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