This article originally appeared in AllBusiness.
Are you overly fond of buts? No, I’m not referring to that kind of “butt!” Get your mind out of the gutter.
I’m talking about the “but” that wrecks so many opportunities. The “but” that heralds your excuses for never stepping out of your comfort zone. The “but” that justifies your avoidance of risk, granting you permission to stay on the sidelines. The “but” that keeps you from becoming all you can be. The “but” that moves you to the back of the line, leaving you full of questions, regrets, and what-ifs.
You know what I’m talking about. Remember the time you were asked to take charge of that big project that you knew could have been your breakthrough moment? However, you let your fear of failure and lack of confidence win, so you said, “But I don’t think I have time or the experience to do this.” And now you’re kicking yourself for not rising to the occasion. Yeah. That “but.”
We’ve all uttered the “but” out of fear and lack of confidence when our backs are against the wall. Why is it that those times when we’re asked to step up to the plate are almost always the same times we most harshly doubt ourselves? We become intimidated when we’re faced with looming challenges or pushed to step into unfamiliar territory. Guilty as charged.
There’s a fix for “but-itis.” It’s called “yet.”
That’s right—sometimes the solution lies in simply repositioning your frame of mind to allow for the possibilities that saying or thinking “but” has a way of extinguishing.
If every time you’re inclined to resort to your tried-and-true response, you replaced it with “yet” instead, you’d be free to explore the possibilities and visions that you sincerely want to achieve. This simple change of mindset can set you on a path to finding your true purpose and passion.
A few examples to illustrate my point:
It took Thomas Edison up to 10,000 tries before he successfully created the modern light bulb. His response to these repeated attempts? “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He could have easily responded with “I could keep going but I know it won’t work. Just look at the 10,000 times it’s failed.” Instead he chose to think, “Yet, now I know 10,000 ways that won’t work, so I’ll try something different.”
Oprah Winfrey was abused by multiple relatives and ran away from home. She gave birth at the age of fourteen to a baby boy who passed shortly thereafter. She could have easily and justifiably let her tragic past keep her down, inserting the “but” every time she began to picture a better life. However, she chose “yet,” and the rest is history.
Polio left Franklin Roosevelt paralyzed from the waist down in the midst of his political career. He easily could have “but” out of public life, disqualifying himself as a suitable president of the United States. Instead, he thought, “Yet, I am still a great leader,” and he ran for office and served four terms, making him the longest standing president in U.S. history. In political studies today, Roosevelt still often ranks within the top three most popular presidents.
This simple but powerful exchange of one three-letter word for another—a change solely in mindset—can be the difference that changes your life, your family’s life, your career, and maybe even the world. “Yet” can open up all of the possibilities where “but” got in the way. You don’t have to live a life with regrets. As Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve, regardless of how many times you have failed in the past.”