It’s Risky Business to Say WTF: How and When to Say It

Why It's Fun and Worth It to Say WTF

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One of my favorite phrases is WTF. I probably say it to myself more than I care to count or admit. I’ll be PC in this post – instead of writing out the whole words I actually say, I’ll just use the abbreviation: WTF.

This phrase has two meanings for me:

  1. When I’m totally frustrated and there’s nothing I can do about the current situation – like driving behind someone who’s actually going 25 in a 25 or when the blender overflows. This is when WTF is preceded by “Really? Are you Kidding me? Seriously… WTF.”
  2. When I’m going to do something big and scary; Hell be damned and all my hesitancies with it… when I’ve got nothing to lose except maybe my comfort and pride. In these moments, WTF can be traded for “Here we go!” but WTF conjures up that slightly mischievous, live-life-big voice, and that scene from Risky Business.
    “Here we go!” conjures up Peter Pan after he sprinkles pixie dust and they fly off to Neverland. Both phrases work incredibly well. WTF is clearly my favorite. “Here we go” is what I say when I’m on my best behavior.

Today’s blog is about using WTF to leap into something fun, adventurous, big and scary.

It most recently came into play a couple months ago when I was talking with a coach-friend of mine about blogging. School was getting ready to start and I knew I’d have space to write again after taking a break over the Summer. I mentioned the idea of us each writing a post a week. We hashed the idea around by citing all the reasons it could never work. For me, my reasons included Time (it takes me forever to write) and What Would I Write About Anyway week after week? and the biggest of all: I’m Not A Writer. Not to mention, Will anyone even read it? Oh-my-God, what if they do? It’s a scary thing to do… it might not seem like it, and it probably isn’t for many but it is for me. So after several minutes of trading reasons why this was a horrible idea, my friend looked at me and said, “I think we just talked ourselves into doing it.”

This caught my breath, then I nodded because I knew she was right. Queue my inner voice: WTF.

Back to that scene in Risky Business – I googled it because I wanted to see if there was more than the line, “Sometimes, you gotta say WTF,” and there’s definitely more. The conversation starts with Joel (Tom Cruise) saying he didn’t want to make a mistake and jeopardize his future. His friend responds, “Every now and then, say WTF. WTF gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.” (watch it here) These are some wise words for an ‘80’s flic!

So how do you start this chain of events that gives freedom, opportunity and makes your future?

Here’s how: after you’ve thought about all the reasons you want to do it and all the reasons it’s a stupid idea (this should come naturally), and you still want to go ahead and do it, you need to drop it, leave it, and leap.

  1. Drop It. It = pride, hesitation, worries, self-doubt, practicality, comfort, what we believe we can and can’t do.
  2. Leave it. Don’t drop it and then pick it back up 5 minutes later. Leave it behind so you can leap.
  3. Leap. This is the moment when you decide to do it. Make it a big enough decision that you can’t turn back. Better yet, tell people you’re going to do it so they now expect it from you. Then follow through.

This applies to any number of moves you’ve wanted to make but haven’t: giving that presentation, asking for a raise, booking that vacation, making that career move, leading that project, etc.

There’s one addendum to my WTF Method of Drop It – Leave It – Leap. You see, this kind of leap that brings freedom, opportunity and makes your future is a leap for adventure, and it’s only worth it if it’s done with good spirit. It won’t work if you take the leap when you’re angry, resentful or want to show someone you can. Doing it that way results in carrying baggage with you; it dampens the adventure, diminishes opportunity, and steals freedom. And that’s no way to make a future.

The addendum: always with kindness and respect for yourself and others.

Together, this method will do what Joel’s friend said in Risky Business: “Every now and then, say WTF. WTF gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.”

WTF is clearly my favorite thing to say in these deciding moments. I know good things and adventure will follow. We each have our own phrase that we say to ourselves when we’re about to leap and make something big happen. What’s your phrase or word that gives you a surge of energy and propels you forward? It might not be WTF or Here We Go, but if you can tune into what you say to yourself in those moments, you’ll know you’re about to venture into something great.

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