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How Limiting Is Your ‘But’?


We live in language. Everyday. It surrounds us. Unfortunately, we seem to quickly learn and adopt language that limits the world of possibility before us. Just the other day, my youngest son was so frustrated and upset. When I asked why, he said, “I want to play soccer but I can’t kick it as far as my brother. ” And, with that he had given up and was near tears. It reminded me just how powerful and limiting the word ‘but’ can be. Take a look at the statement again:

  • I want to play soccer BUT I can’t kick it as far as my brother.

Once you use the word ‘but’, you negate everything that precedes it. For my son, it was as if he no longer wanted to play soccer because he couldn’t kick the ball as far as his older brother so he just gave up.

How often are you giving up in your professional or personal life by using the word ‘but’? Think about the times you have said you wanted something only to follow with that powerful yet limiting word, ‘but’. Let me give you a few examples to think about:

  • I want a promotion BUT I haven’t worked here long enough.

  • I want to do more fulfilling work BUT I’m scared to make a change.

  • I want to run a 5K BUT I’m out of shape.

  • I want to spend more time with my kids BUT my work schedule won’t permit it.

Have you ever said these or something similar? Once you say it, you tend to forget about what you want because it doesn’t seem attainable when that big ‘but’ follows. What if I told you there was a word you could replace ‘but’ with that would allow you to see both sides of the statement equally? Below, I will replace the word ‘but’ with ‘and’ in each of the statements:

  • I want a promotion AND I haven’t worked here long enough.

  • I want to do more fulfilling work AND I’m scared to make a change.

  • I want to run a 5K AND I’m out of shape.

  • I want to spend more time with my kids AND my work schedule won’t permit it.

Can you see the difference this one word makes in allowing you to both want something and realize there may be limitations, whether perceived or real? The word ‘and’ is so powerful by allowing you to see more possibility.

Don’t dismiss what you want with ‘but’. Rather, embrace your wants AND your limitations (perceived or real). In doing so, you may just discover a whole new world of possibility. CEEK a Better Way.


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