When I ask this question in my coaching, often I get a blank or annoyed look. “Nothing. There is nothing perfect about this,” is the typical reply and the frustration is palpable. Letting silence work its magic, something inevitably opens up. “Well, maybe this is the opportunity to think differently about how I approach this,” or, “What I used to do is no longer working. I should delegate and this might be the opportunity for Jeff to take on more responsibilities.”
It’s a powerful question and it works. The first reaction is often to push away and to dismiss or avoid the question. But my coaching clients seek me out because they want to reexamine their usual way of thinking and make changes. The silence following this question helps them get there.
I use this technique for myself as well. My dad has Alzheimer’s disease and, when I ask myself what is perfect about this, my first answer is “nothing.” Then I realize that, if I allow myself to be really present with him when we are alone, I can see his sense of humour, caring nature, and desires come through. There are no layers to sift through or pretenses to translate. Behind the difficulty of expressing himself or inability to get out of bed in the morning, I can see what makes him happy or sad. I can be there for him in ways I would never have thought possible. I have a new appreciation for going for a ride in the car to get ice cream together. I marvel at my 13-year-old son helping him up the stairs, carefully directing him to the kitchen, and offering to make a coffee using the few Dutch words he has picked up. I see my 11-year-old daughter playing guitar for him and singing the songs he knows, like Christmas carols in June. That is what is perfect about this.
Shift your thinking when you are stuck and ask yourself “What is perfect about this?” You might be surprised by the answer. Use this question when you are coaching others and watch a shift happen.
That’s what perfect about this.
This is a great question. It allows people to focus on the positive aspects of a situation, thereby jump-starting their creativity, gathering enthusiasm, and generating momentum to get out of being "stuck." What keeps many of us stuck is looking at the negative aspects of our situation and not being able to look at it from a different perspective.