How many times do you confuse the universe with a ‘but’?

I’m not talking about the but that follows you everywhere.

I’m talking about all the ways you say you want something, then find a way to say why you won’t do it.

For example, I’ve wanted to get my weight back into a healthier range for a while. So, I’d tell myself it’s time to get back in shape.

Then come the ‘buts.’

But I’m too busy today to spend time working out.

But I’m too tired this morning to get out of bed and make it happen.

(I have several dozen other buts to explain why I won’t work out today.)

The problem is that you’re confusing the universe; you say you want something, then use a but to explain why it’s not happening.

You have now justified why you don’t need to take responsibility for the problem.

So, why is it but has such power over us?

The power of the but starts with the anxiety you feel in the face of a problem. (Note: problems come in many shapes and sizes and may include uncertain, complex, or threatening situations.)

When we feel anxious, we’re wired to address the feeling first rather than seeing the problem for what it is.

So, to reduce the anxiety, we insert a but into the conversation.

That’s when things don’t happen.

To change this, start by being aware of how many times you use a but.

Keep a Post-it on your desk as you’re working. Use this Post-it to keep a score of how many times you say but.

It might surprise you just how many times you say it.

When you catch yourself, change the but into and…

For example:

“I want to work out more, but I’m too busy this morning.”

Might become:

“I want to work out more, and I am going to prioritize looking after myself once again.”


“I like your idea for improving the product, but I think there’s too much risk.”

Might become:

“I like your idea for improving the product, and I’d like to talk more about the risks before we proceed.”

Do you notice how one shuts down the thought process or conversation while the other invites possibilities?

How often do you say but every week?

You’ve got this.

Building Great Teams

Building Great Teams

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