I’ve got a fun prompt for you this week. It’s going to have you doing a little detective work.

I don’t watch much television. I do, however, enjoy an occasional police drama on Netflix. Law & Order is one of my favorites.

If you’ve ever watched this type of show, you know that when a new crisis hits and nobody is sure where to start, they call a big meeting. All the crime-fighting team members congregate around a table, usually standing up and pacing. And one of them calls out:

“Okay, what do we know?”

This question provides a great leaping point for cops and detectives to start outlining the details that will help them catch their killer. If you’re watching NCIS, they’re probably capturing these details on a dimly-lit glass wall in metallic sharpie.

Why do you think this question works? Because it has a solid answer. The alternate question, “What don’t we know?” is the perfect formula for a meltdown.

Yet that question is the one we most often ask ourselves when faced with a large dilemma or crisis. The answer is limitless, endless, abyssmal. It paralyzes us with the gravity of our situation. We feel small and powerless.

But when you invert the question, you get a confidence-boosting selection of information that helps you hone in on what you need to discover. Detailing what you already know about the situation narrows the field of focus.

It helps you zoom in on the solution, instead of floundering around in the unknown.

Next time you find yourself at the cusp of a crisis, take a cue from our fearless crime fighters. Find a table, pace a bit, and ask yourself:

  • What do I know?

Then get out your journal and amaze yourself with your grasp of the situation. Your next move will become obvious, a natural progression of what you’ve already figured out.