Monday, March 14, 2016

Swapping Words: A Path to Success

At the heart of this blog post is the foundational belief that the only thing standing in the way of you and your success is... you.  Unfortunately for most of us, we don`t openly recognise exactly how we are blocking ourselves from achieving all that we desire.

Most of us have clarity over everything that we want.  The challenge is that although we want more, we just don`t want to have to do more to get it. This isn't a comfortable thing for us to acknowledge though, certainly not to others.  Turning to our boss and saying that yes, we would certainly love to get a promotion - just as long as we didn't have to do anything more to get or keep it - isn't likely going to get us that promotion after all.

Instead, we create reasons to explain `why` we didn't get that promotion.  We use our reasons to explain our behaviour.  However, our reasons are simply our obstacles, our excuses. They form barriers that excuse us from taking the action that would move us forward. We can become so committed to our reasons that they become our truth, becoming embedded in our very language.

According to Professor Bernard Roth, of Stanford University, in his book The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life, there are 5 primary phrases that we should eliminate from our language.  Swapping these dis-empowering words for alternatives that are more positive and compelling can have an immediate impact on heightening our achievement and success rate.

Professor Roth`s Top 5 List...

  • Swap out `But` with `And` - The word But is an extremely limiting word that is often misused in place of the word And.  Enough so that it even sounds correct when used that way. However, its use can shift a neutral statement into a negative one.  Consider a person who is afraid of flying and is offered an amazing internship on the other side of the country.  Saying "I want this internship BUT I'm afraid of flying" shuts down the opportunity.  Using 'but' in this way links two very separate truths, making one sound like a reason to not pursue the first. Replacing 'but' with 'and' though allows your mind to separate the truths and to therefore recognise that accepting the internship simply requires finding alternative ways to deal with the fear of flying.
  • Swap out 'Have to' with 'Want to'  -  The use of the phrase 'have to' makes the circumstance sound as though it is being forced upon you, creating resistance and resentment.  Swapping it with the phrase 'want to' reminds us that we have personal choice.  We don't 'have to' take a course to upgrade our skills, we 'want to' open up future opportunities by taking it.
  • Swap out 'Can't' with 'Won't'  - This is an interesting one to consider since most of us find ourselves describing what we can't do quite often.  However, the use of can't implies that something is impossible for us.  Saying that we can't drive a car implies that it is physical impossible for us to do so, while saying that we won't drive a car reflects our personal choice not to learn to drive.  You are in control of what you choose to learn to do or not.  Replacing can't with won't is empowering, putting the decision firmly back in your control.
  • Swap out 'I'm afraid to' with 'I'd like to' -  Using the phrase I'm afraid to, as a reason not to pursue a course of action, acknowledges your fear, rather than your desire, giving the fear more weight.  By highlighting your fear you set your mind up to awfulize the situation, to consider all that could go wrong, creating a big roadblock.  Saying I'd like to acknowledges your desire, which is more positive and pleasant.  Generally highlighting the positive benefits of taking a course of action makes it far more compelling, increasing the likelihood that you will pursue it.
  • Swap out 'Help' with 'Assist' - When we ask someone to help us, we are reducing our personal sense of empowerment.  The word 'help' is associated with helplessness creating an image of someone incapable of completing the task on their own.  However, looking for someone to assist you recognises that you have the capability on your own, if you chose to. Far more empowering.
Our language helps to shape the way that we view the world around us and, perhaps more importantly, how we view ourselves.  I'm willing to bet that you could hear yourself in one if not more of the examples given above. The five word swaps above, if made consistently, would represent enough of a positive impact on your personal perspective of you to up your Achievement and Success profile. Which ones are you going to activate and swap for your increased success?

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