Leadership on a Napkin

Lesson 9:
From “Should” to “Want” to “Will”

When people work on articulating their personal or collective goals, and they want to convince others in a certain direction they often say things like “I should do this,” “I have to do this,” or “I must do this.” 

They try to build their case based on external and/or internal circumstances. And often their rational for why they shouldmust, and even can’t afford not to do something is completely valid and compelling.

But as we all know, people often don’t do what they should, must or have to. For example: we don’t eat or exercise as we should. And we sure don’t behave or act the way we should in many personal and professional situations. So by saying “we should,” we keep the conversation theoretical, hypothetical and conceptual. And it doesn’t compel anyone toward commitment and action.

If you want to have a more powerful conversation, shift your conversation from “I should do this” to “I want to do this.” The shift from Should to Want to is a big step forward toward a more powerful conversation. “I should” is a description. But “I want” is a declaration of intent and commitment, therefore it takes the conversation beyond the theoretical. It connects people to their real commitment and compels and inspires them to start considering action.

If someone says “I should do this” people will nod their heads and agree. But if someone says “I want to do this” people may say, “So what are you going to do about it?” It takes the level of personal ownership to a new level.

The most powerful conversation is when people say “I will do this.” If “I should do this” is a description, “I want to do this” is a declaration, “I will do this” is a promise. And that is the ultimate conversation for driving action.

In conclusion, in order to drive powerful conversations I recommend you:

  1. Stay away from “I should do x, y, z.”
  2. Steer the conversation toward “I want to do x, y, z.”
  3. And then, from there, close with “I will do x, y, z.”