Wayne’s World on Moral Interrogative Self-Talk

Yesterday I posted a piece on the effectiveness of asking yourself questions to improve your inner-motivational monologue – using “Can you do this?” instead of “You can do this!” This may work with moral quandaries, as well. Cue Wayne and Garth.

Wayne and Garth are the hosts of Wayne’s World, a fictional public access cable show that was a Saturday Night Live skit before becoming a movie. Wayne and Garth are often faced with difficult decisions. When this happens, they say “doodly doo”, wave their hands as the screen gets wavy, and go into a dream sequence.

With a glimpse into Wayne and Garth’s imagination, we see comical examples of wish fulfilling outcomes. As leaders, we also face difficult decisions, many of which involve ethical dilemmas. When this happens, we often ask ourselves, “What should I do?” Seems logical, right? Maybe not.

New research out of Harvard shows that changing your mindset from “What should I do?” to “What could I do?” generates greater moral insight…

…and allows for exploration of more possible solutions beyond the apparent constraints of the problem provided, and for the formulation of creative solutions that satisfy multiple moral imperatives.

So asking “What could I do?” leads to more innovative answers. This may sound like simple semantics, but the words you choose matter. Should and could are not synonymous. Should implies an obligation to follow a pre-determined set of rules, whereas could has a sense of endless possibilities.

Energize yourself and those you lead with verbiage that will help get you the best possible output. Will this solve all of your problems….”not!” But it’ll help.