What if… What if not?

Mitch Schneider
January 22, 2020

I was on my way home from a meeting at the City of Hope. Like most Patient and Family Advisory Council meetings, it was focused on culture and the deliverables required to ensure powerful and positive interactions at every level of engagement.

That includes patients engaging with all aspects of the City of Hope. It also takes into consideration staff involvement with patients and caregivers. As well as the ease and ability of staff members to interact with each other at all levels.

The commitment to this kind of communication is astounding and their success is nothing less than wondrous.

How do they do it? One way is their singular commitment to the connection that exists between body, mind, and spirit. Another is a willingness to ask lots of questions. Particularly, Why? What if…? How? And, What if not… questions.


Why questions challenge the very nature of what we are currently involved in and committed to. They force us to confront our current course of action.

What if questions allow us to engage our creativity in considering a future that has not evolved yet. What if questions compel us to look at all the possibilities we may have ignored or failed to uncover.

Once we have explored the Why and What if questions, it’s time to look at the How of what needs to be done to develop real-world answers. They identify the nuts and bolts of getting things done.

And, What if not questions allow us to envision a world without our commitment to antiquated answers, practices, and actions. What if we never did that… How would we solve that problem? Bridge that gap? Engage that community?

These are not easy questions to consider? They are anything but comfortable. But asking and then answering them can yield extraordinary results. If you’re not sure you need only look as far as the City of Hope for confirmation.

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