By Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC
I have, for the most part, eliminated the “B” word from my vocabulary. Being in the business of helping people become extraordinary leaders of themselves and others, I tend to cringe when I hear folks using this word. It’s like adding a self-limiting asterisk to something important, meaningful, and worthwhile.
The “B” word is a weapon used by our inner critic. This critic likes to hide in the bushes. And, just when you’re getting good and ready to take some courageous leadership-affirming action, out it jumps in all its two-fisted distorted glory waving brightly colored neon signs painted with the “B” word…in capital letters.
Well, I for one, have had enough. And, you should too. Why? Because words matter. Words make up the stories we tell about ourselves. These stories guide our actions. If our stories are full of the “B” word, the inner critic wins. We stay safe and…. small. We certainly do not develop as a leader.
And, there is hope. Literally, hope is in the word “And.”
Unlike the “B” word, “And” is expansive, inclusive, and full of possibility. “And” helps us to tell ourselves the story of moving forward. For leaders, “And” offers inspiration while the “B” word offers limitation.
Consider this leadership example: “I very much want to delegate more, but I am afraid of losing control.” Vs. “I very much want to delegate more, and I am afraid of losing control.”
Both sentences begin with a clear vision for action. The first sentence has a defeatist, limiting tone. “Delegating more” isn’t likely to happen. The second sentence creates the space for “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” A quality that most successful, inspirational leaders have.
I invite you to get intentional about this. Start substituting “And” when you notice your inner critic waving the “B” word sign. Notice how “AND” makes you feel. Listen for the “B” word being used by others. Imagine what it would sound like with an “And” instead. And, if you’re brave enough, ask them to do the exercise. Ask them how they feel.
As we fill our stories with more and more “Ands” and less and less “B” words, we start to tell ourselves a more courageous version of our story. AND, this helps us become the leaders we want to be.
Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC is an Executive Leadership and Professional