A one-word diet

A one-word diet

I listen carefully to what people say. Not because I am the world’s greatest listener, but I believe the language we use gives us the results we have in life, and who reading this doesn’t drive for results? Lately, I have been listening to my clients, friends and myself use a certain word too often. So, I decided it’s time for a detox. There is one word, unless posed as a question, that keeps many people from optimizing their results and creating more freedom and joy in life. So I am inviting you to join me over the next week as I have vowed to keep one word out of my thoughts and speaking. That word is the dastardly “should.”

Why bother?

For one thing, leadership is about action — it may also be about non-action, but the kind of non-action that has been deeply considered and is therefore a strategy, not the result of inability to take risks and move the ball forward. 

The word “should” when asked as a question is a good one, as in, “Should we break every sales record this month?” or, “Should we be the most desired place to visit in the city?” 

“Should” as a declarative sentence is destructive, as in: 

  • I should start going to the gym more (produces guilt and criticism).
  • I should replace my director of sales (used when you are really sure of something but are holding back because of “reasons”).
  • I should put that marketing plan together (procrastination).
Transform the “shoulds” in your life!

I suggest we attempt to adeptly manage our recurring “shoulds.” Those little shouldy monsters eat away at our freedom and confidence and prevent us from turning ideas into realities. I recommend they live in one of three places on your calendar.

The Now 

The Now is an action item you place in your calendar somewhere in the upcoming week (although I recommend the next 48 hours). If you know that putting a “should” into action would mean optimum results were you to follow through, make a commitment on your calendar of when you will begin. Turn this should into a commitment by entering into your calendar what you are committed to having by when, and write your very next action step to be taken.

Later, Gator  

Create a biweekly pop-up in your calendar called “Later, Gator.” Put all the “shoulds” in there that nag you frequently — things like, “I should call my ex,” or, “I should publish my book,” and, “I should take my team out bowling.” Read them every two weeks to see if there is something in there you are willing to commit to and take one action step on. If not, move it to the “Get Over It” Date.  

“Get Over It” Date  

This should come up on your calendar once every six months or once a year. Put in here all the things you beat yourself up for but know you probably don’t really care about or are not called to.  My examples: I should learn to play golf. I should get a dog. I should take up jiu jitsu. The Get Over It Date puts your mind at rest that you don’t have to give up your distant “should,” but they don’t have to nag you either. 

As I work with my clients to create a culture of happiness that supports extraordinary financial return and great workplaces, I am always reminded that it all starts with leadership. Free yourself up to focus on what’s important, take action on it and take control of the “shouldy little voice” that usurps your power and criticizes the awesome being you really are.