Before we get started, I want you to think in the past few days or week, what was the last best thing you did (or created, or experienced)? Can you think of something? It doesn’t have to be major, but as you start reading about this, maybe it will be helpful for you to have something in mind.
Got it? Ok. 2 weeks ago, I described how I do Models to notice my thinking and notice the results I get from that thinking – so today, I want to tell you about a variation I like to do to notice the thoughts that produce great results in my life. I call it the Last Best Thing Model.
The last best thing model reminds me of my “default” thoughts that give me the results that I really do want. It shows me the thoughts I naturally think that produce the best things in my life for me, naturally! And since these thoughts already work for me, without any effort or intention on my part, I want to notice them, pay attention to them and replicate them in other areas too.
How to do a Last Best Thing Model
Think of the last best thing that you created. Then, Write the blank model out:
The last best thing that you created goes in the last line, the Result line. Now jump up 1 line- that’s the Action line– what actions did you do (or what didn’t you do) to create that result?
By the way.. Maybe you’re wondering..How can a non action be an action?
Well, if the last best thing that happened was that you avoided an argument with your partner when something didn’t go as expected, the non-action could be something like -”I didn’t react to the accusation, I didn’t say what was on the tip of my tongue” So, your A is what you did.. Or what you didn’t do.
Now, think about the feeling that caused you to do or not do what you did. Write that Feeling in the F line.
Back to the argument example – maybe the feeling you had was peaceful or or even conciliatory. Hmm.. so interesting, right?
What thought were you thinking to make you feel conciliatory during a situation that could have resulted in an argument? Maybe the Thought you had was “I’m picking my battles” or maybe it was “This isn’t a big deal and I’d rather not argue.” – whatever the thought was that created the feeling- that goes in the T line. And the C line is whatever the neutral situation or circumstance is.
As you think of these one-off examples, like the one I just gave, or things you do innately well or things you’re naturally good at, you can see how some of your default thoughts and beliefs are producing great results for you already- so doing a last best thing model can help to bring those wonderful default thoughts to your awareness.Think of this as if you have a habit, or some default thinking, that’s really good for you. That you would always want to continue thinking or doing.
Or, as an example, if you decided to do something very hard- but you went into with the belief that it was easy (maybe you misunderstood something) – so your belief that it would be easy, made it easy for you.. Even though other people might consider it hard. Like, driving a stick shift. If you grew up watching movies where people shifted a stick shift as they drove, and everyone around you had a stick shift, you would think learning to drive a stick shift was just normal, and maybe even easy. But someone who learned how to drive an automatic, and never even sat in the driver’s seat next to a stick shift would have completely different thoughts about learning how to drive a standard transmission.
Reasons to do a Last Best Thing Model
The number 1 reason to do a Last Best Thing model is to catch the default thoughts that create the great results. And then figure out how and when to use those thoughts in other situations.
Another reason to do a Last Best Thing model is that it is kind of a trick for the brain. My suspicion is that anyone who has spent any time doing self coaching and thought work has at one time or another gotten a little “tired” of doing models on problems. It’s not uncommon for a coach to ask, have you done a model on that? Or tell me your model on that?
So, doing frequent models on the Last Best Thing keeps models out of a chore/punishment category for me. It means sometimes I do a model because something has gone wrong or is bugging me, but sometimes I do a model because something is so great and powerful and I want to capture that and dissect it, and save it for later! Doing a last best thing model keeps me in the mode of doing models frequently, and without any resistance.
Here’s a really interesting reason to do this type of model. It helps me realize “innate” thoughts (or natural thoughts) that I would assume everyone thinks.
I might do a Last Best Thing Model on something that I think is worthy of celebration – like finishing a big project, or getting everything done on my massive to do list, or having a wonderful time at a family gathering. Or, maybe I’ll do Last Best Thing Model out of gratitude and acknowledgement for the amazing life I have- like the specific elements that make it that way.
Last December, I had the most perfect Sunday with 2 holiday parties and two different groups of friends and some quality time with my husband, and I remember thinking: “I am the luckiest girl in the world.” When I have a result of having a perfect day like that, it’s time to do a model to figure out what I was thinking that created all that perfection. Once I know the thoughts, I can practice them, and apply them in other areas of my life too.
Doing Last Best Thing Models frequently reminds me what I want to keep thinking and lets me notice the actions that come from specific feelings. Then, when I want to do those actions again, I can recall the feeling that drives those actions and look for a thought to create that feeling for myself.
If an intentional thought works well for me in one model, with one circumstance, it might also work for me in another model with a completely different circumstance. So, by doing the Last Best Thing Model, I can start a collection of intentional thoughts to choose and have at the ready when I encounter a new situation.
By doing Last Best Thing Models, I start to get curious about where else those thoughts could apply. A good example of this is what I talked about in the last episode. Through doing models and choosing intentional thoughts, I realized that I could think the thought “There’s no problem that can’t be solved with time or money and I always have plenty of time and plenty of money.” I loved that thought. I definitely saw the positive results I got by thinking that thought, and then I realized, I could extend it out beyond just time and money. What else solves problems? Energy – do I have plenty of energy? I do if I decide that I do. Sold!
By noticing that my “plenty of” thought could apply to other concepts, I expanded my original thought to include energy and came up with one of My Favorite Mantras. (I’ll be telling you about a few more of my favorite mantras next month, so make sure you’re on my email list so you’ll know when that episode comes out.)
So, if something goes really great for me, like I do a super helpful presentation and the participants are grateful and impressed and in awe of how it turned out, I could do a Last Best Thing Model to uncover the reasons the presentation turned out so well. Maybe it’s because I loved preparing for it, or maybe it’s because I gave myself enough time with the material to not feel rushed or stressed about it. Or maybe because, going into it, I considered who the audience would be and focused on them, instead of myself throughout the presentation. And maybe, I just naturally did that, because that’s what I would hope would happen if I was an audience member- so, without planning, or thinking about it or having an ulterior motive – maybe the thought that led to the result of the great presentation was “I should think about the audience and focus on them, I don’t need to worry about myself as I’m doing this presentation.”
That thought might be completely natural to me in this circumstance, but it may be a completely unnatural thought for many people who are about to give presentations. If I notice that “Easy for Me” natural thought that isn’t necessarily natural for other people, I have a new awareness. I have valuable information that I can share with team members and coworkers and friends and, I can remind myself of it when there is a similar situation.
Maybe I’m not in a presentation, but rather in an interview.. And I decide to “think about the other person and focus on them, I don’t need to worry about myself as I’m doing this interview” – and that thought (intentional, not natural, this time) may result in a much better interview.
Whatever natural thoughts I uncover through doing the Last Best Thing model.. I can expound on them, replicate them in other areas, and tease out other similar thoughts.
Sometimes, it’s also fun to think about where I got the natural thought in the first place. So when I consider, where did I learn that it’s better to think about the audience and focus on them? I get a hazy memory of a student leadership conference I went to in 7th grade. We had workshops and group projects over a 3-day period. And, we stayed in dorms! And got to go on a river boat! And the conference center had a pool! And there was a dance on the last night! I thought it was so cool! And I was so cool that I got to go. Then, a few weeks later after we got back from the conference, all of us who went on the trip, recreated a 1-day version for the student government at our school. One of the teachers who helped us organize the whole experience told us to make sure to focus on what our peers would want and need to learn, and not to worry about ourselves.
And you know what’s crazy.. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m starting to remember the details and other things that happened that week and during the one-day event. But, until I did the Last Best Thing Model and then questioned where that Natural Thought came from in the first place, that whole Leadership Conference Memory was totally locked away.
If I only did models on things that turned out poorly and not on things that turned out perfectly, I would never uncover those naturally occurring positive default thoughts and memories that actually create amazing results for me without me even noticing or being intentional. Sometimes that happens!
Doing these models is the whole idea of capitalizing on your strengths rather than trying to improve your weaknesses. Obviously, it takes less effort to do more of what comes naturally than to try to overcome resistance and retrain your brain. So, if something is working, I want it to work that way in more areas of my life.
Maybe another way to think about this is considering something great in my life that I take for granted – or feel entitled to.
I find it so interesting when I’m in a conversation with someone and we’re “comparing notes” and something that I think is a huge stressor might not be a big deal for her at all. Or something that I look forward to with glee and anticipation might cause her to shut down and retreat.
I want to notice these things- because whatever that is that causes me glee and excitement.. But shuts down someone else is probably a skill or preference that I just assumed everyone had – and when I realize it’s not, I see it more as a talent, more as a differentiator, more as a way that I can provide value and create something meaningful for myself and others. Maybe by tracing the positive results back to my thoughts, even if it’s “I deserve it- it’s just the way it is” can show me how I can have similar thoughts about things that I might not feel as confident and as abundant about.
I noticed that this happened shortly after my sister graduated from law school and opened her own law practice.
She was telling me about how one of her classmates had it so much easier than she did because he came from a family of entrepreneurs and attorneys who had a family history and culture of starting firms and getting clients. And it was just what they did, it was natural and effortless and expected of them.And as she was describing it to me I wondered, does our family have a family history and culture of anything that we find natural and expected – and I realized, we do!
For as long as I can remember, our parents have had rental properties, it was just part of normal life and now, as adults, my sister and I both own rental properties too. It’s what we do. And I remembered conversations with friends about buying properties and they would say “no way, I could never own a rental, that’s too much stress.. Too much drama.. What if the renters trash the place, what if they don’t pay rent?” and all that is true and possible and annoying when it happens, but it’s also no big deal, and just part of doing business. In my family, we don’t have any drama about when that kind of stuff happens, we just deal with it and move on, because it’s what we do.
So my sister was looking at her friend as if he had some special mindset because of his family business, not realizing that we have a similar mindset about our family business- but we wouldn’t consider it special, just like her attorney friend probably didn’t think opening a law practice and getting clients was any big deal. It’s just the way it is. My sister could adopt that same mindset to running her own practice since she already has it about rental properties. And, if she did a Last Best Thing model with the Result line as successfully owning a Rental, maybe she could find a thought that she could also try on for opening a law practice.
So, what are you thinking about a Last Best Thing Model right now? Do you think it would work for you? Do you think it would uncover any great default thoughts that are currently creating great results for you that, otherwise, you wouldn’t notice?
3 ways you can incorporate Last Best Thing Models into your life
You can use it as a journal prompt. I write prompts for myself in the margin of my journal – so I’ll sprinkle the prompt of writing the Last Best Thing Model throughout so it pops up right when I need it. Once that prompt popped up for me and I didn’t feel like I had anything momentous or “best” to do a model on, so I literally just chose the last best thing I had done which was I figured out how to make Hot Buttered Rum for an event I was hosting.Not earth shattering, right? Maybe even kind of basic in the grand scheme of things.
But here’s what happened. About a year earlier, I had tried Hot Buttered Rum for the first time at a party, and I really liked the idea of it and thought it would be perfect for my annual Drinks and Desserts party on Thanksgiving night, so I tried it and it turned out perfectly!
The thought I had going into that experience was “I don’t know how this will turn out.” The feeling I got from that thought was curious. The actions I took out of curiosity were that I didn’t stress when my first attempt wasn’t matching my expectation, I experimented with the recipe to get it closer to what I thought it should be like, and I was willing to throw it out if it didn’t turn out.And the result, after some trial and error and experimentation was that it turned out perfectly – probably because my thought was “I don’t know” as in “I wasn’t dead-set on a certain expectation being met.
So, my Hot Buttered Rum Model helped me realize that whenever I go into something new, if I can start with an open mind, without specific expectations, I’ll be more likely to be curious and experimental- which will probably lead to a more satisfying outcome.
The 2nd way you can also use the Last Best Thing Models is as a coaching tool. Either if you’re coaching yourself or meeting with a coach, like me. Having a coaching session doesn’t always mean something is a problem or you’re in crisis. Coaching with this kind of model uncovers so many great thoughts!
And you can use Last Best Thing Models very loosely in personal conversations. I’m not suggesting you go into full-on Model acronym mode and get out a piece of paper to write it all down, but when you hear someone talking about something great in their life, you could ask “what did you do to get that result?” and “how were you feeling when you did those things?” and “what were you thinking to make you feel that way?” and the answer to that last question is GOLD!
If you’re telling someone about something that worked out well for you, answer those questions for yourself, either during the conversation or after – just to notice what thoughts created those results.
That’s it! That’s what I wanted to talk to you about today! I just wanted to show you how and why I sometimes do models on the last best thing that happened to me so that I can notice the thoughts that created those results. And now I want to hear your thoughts and your reactions. What questions do you have about doing a model on the last best thing?