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There Is No "But" In Business

Some time ago I had an experience with a potential client who was very bright and enthusiastic yet brought up a number of significant red flags and reminded me of some important lessons: (1) when an “entrepreneur” gets stressed and overwhelmed creating the plan for the business there is a low likelihood they’ll do better in the thick of it; (2) overwhelm and stress removes their ability to reason or to intuit so as soon as this occurs, best to just give some space and time; (3) even though the person seemed very enthusiastic and passionate at the start, at the end of our meetings I felt very drained; and (4) all of this seemed to be encapsulated in their regular use of one word – “but”.

This is classic Neuro Linguistic Programming where the study of successful people has shown that they use positive and expansive words versus negative and limiting words – “and”, “how”, “what” or “why” versus “but”. People who are predisposed to success are energized and focused on finding solutions to problems. People predisposed to failure need frequent periods to process their negative emotions and fears about what they see as a problem…and it shows up in their regular use of the word “but”.

I remembered that this idea is consistent with the rules of improvisational comedy and theatre whereby there are often no rules but one…that you can’t negate what the other comedian or actor has put forward. E.g. you can’t use the word “but”. Rather, what the other person puts forward is accepted and then built upon positively….it’s the only way improv works…let alone is interesting. In my view, life and business are the same...although perhaps just a little more bizarre. So the next time you find yourself interacting with someone who uses the word “but” (as well as other limiting words such as shouldn’t, can’t, couldn’t, won’t, should, etc.) think twice whether you wish to engage with them further in business or otherwise. And next time you find yourself using “but” make an effort to shift your perspective and language to exploring “why” or “how” or “what” and you’ll find yourself, as well as those you’re interacting with, feeling more energized, connected and productive.

About Rob Pilz

A trusted financial executive and advisor to leaders in business with over 20 years experience in building, optimizing, financing, purchasing and selling businesses ranging from Fortune 500‘s to Delloite’s Technology Fast 50TM. With a talent for bringing out the best in leaders and an expertise in creating leverage / power in business, my current passion is building a network of conscious leaders generating a virtuous cycle of positive change and wealth. Always looking for ways to improve the odds of business success I’ve developed a process combining reason and intuition to make better faster decisions that I call Zero Point Decision MakingTM. I welcome your questions or comments at my website, to my email address at or phone U.S. 646-480-0507, Canada 604-722-5361.

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